Following the trade of Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets, Alshon Jeffery was expected to step up and be the leading receiver. Statistically he achieved that, but injuries kept him off the field for several games this year during a time when Jeffery is planning on commanding a big contract from the Chicago Bears. General manager Ryan Pace noted that the Bears would like to re-sign Jeffery and will explore all options, but what happens if the receiver heads elsewhere?
A contract for Jeffery is not necessarily guaranteed. Jeffery will be looking to get a deal similar to what Dez Bryant and Julio Jones and the Bears might not be willing to pay that. Pace noted that while Chicago loves Jeffery, they must consider everything including the injuries he has suffered over the years. Jeffery told ESPN that he has no interest in being hit with a franchise tag leaving quarterback Jay Cutler to admit there is a chance the receiver does not come back in 2016.
"I don't know what direction they're going to go," Cutler said, via the Chicago Sun Times. "I don't know what Alshon wants to do. But if that does happen, we've got to get (rookie) Kevin (White) ready. Eddie (Royal) is going to be back, and we'll see what else we have. You lose guys every year. Some guys you're able to retain. That's kind of how it goes. That's the business side of it. So we'll deal with that when it happens."
If Jeffery does not return, the Chicago Bears have issues. Kevin White would be the leading receiver and he has not even played a down yet for the Bears. The first-round pick missed his entire rookie season thanks to surgery on his shin, but is expected to return and be healthy come next year. Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson will return as well, but they left a lot to be desired last season. Both receivers combined with Jeffery missed 19 games. The trio was a disappointment and there is no guarantee Royal or Wilson will really improve next year leaving the Bears to look at other options.
The only sure-fire No.1 receiver in this year's draft is Laquon Treadwell. After drafting White last year in the first round, chances are slim that the Bears make a move for Treadwell. According to the Sun Times, the free agency market could be where the Bears make a move. Jermaine Kearse, Travis Benjamin and Marvin Jones represent some of the best available. They could sign on if Jeffery exits.
Even if the Bears get Alshon Jeffery back under contract, they could target another receiver for help given the lack of production they got from their depth in 2015. The team could hold off and wait until a later round to select a player. Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reports the Bears are talking to prospects at the Senior Bowl as Josh Doctson, Braxton Miller and Sterling Shepard could all be second or third round options.