Alshon Jeffery was never leaving Chicago this offseason. The Bears made it certain Monday, announcing they had used their franchise tag on the star wideout.
Explaining the tag
» The exclusive franchise tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position, or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater. The player's team has all negotiating rights to the player.
» The non-exclusive franchise tag is a one-year tender offer determined through a more complicated process. First, the average of the top-five salaries at the position over the last five years is calculated. Next, the percentage against the cap for each of those five seasons is averaged out and applied toward the current season cap to determine the offer amount. The player can negotiate with other teams. The player's current team has the right to match any offer, or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
» The transition tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position and is calculated using the same formula as the non-exclusive franchise tag number. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may receive from another team. The transition tag can only be used if the franchise tag is not used by a team in that year. Transition tags can be rescinded, but teams that rescind a transition tag cannot use it again until next season.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the Bears are giving Jeffery a non-exclusive franchise tag.
General manager Ryan Pace said last week from the NFL Scouting Combine he was "aggressively" negotiating a long-term deal with Jeffery. With the deadline to tag players approaching Tuesday, the Bears will use the leverage to hammer out a lengthy deal.
The franchise tag for receivers is $14.599 million in 2016.
There was no chance Pace was going to let his best offensive weapon walk out the door. When healthy and in shape Jeffery is a difference-maker who forces defense to roll coverage his way. The big-bodied receiver is one of the best high-point catchers in the NFL.
Injuries kept Jeffery off the field for seven games in 2015, earning 807 receiving yards on 54 catches after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Jeffery's presence on the field is tangible. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Bears averaged 6.0 yards per play with Jeffery on the field and just 4.8 yards per play without him.
Tagging Jeffery ensures Jay Cutler's security blanket will remain in Chicago. The next step is signing the receiver to a mega-deal.