Alshon Jeffery: Is He Worth Two First Round Draft Picks?
The Chicago Bears applied the franchise tag to Alshon Jeffery on Monday, a day ahead of the deadline to exercise their right to do so. In doing that, they all but assure that Jeffery will be a Chicago Bear in 2016. It’s not a certainty because the Bears applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to their star wide receiver. What does the non-exclusive tag mean? This from NFL.com:
"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."
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This differs from the exclusive franchise tag, in which the Bears would have had all negotiating rights with Jeffery. It opens the door just a crack if some team thinks they’re one player away – one #1 wide receiver away – from a Super Bowl and wants to offer Jeffery a pile of money. The Bears would still hold the rights to Jeffery and could match any offer, but it begs the question if anyone thinks Jeffery is worth two first round picks and might make a play for him.
The rumor mill has swirled with Jeffery missing his pal and training partner Brandon Marshall and general unhappiness in Chicago. If he’s so unhappy and can find a team that’s willing to part with a couple of first round picks, the Bears might be compelled to take the picks and set Jeffery free.
The 2016 free agent wide receiver class is pretty pathetic and Jeffery is head and shoulders the most interesting name that could be available. To a team like the Carolina Panthers, who are “in their championship window” right now and would expect their first round picks to be toward the bottom of the round, maybe Jeffery, who hails from nearby South Carolina, makes sense. Sure, they’ll be getting Kelvin Benjamin back after missing 2015, but can they arm Cam Newton with enough weapons? How about a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, who have struggled to get production from the wide receiver position the last few years?
I think it’s a smart move by GM Ryan Pace to keep Jeffery under Bears control, but also allow for the possibility to cashing in a couple of first round draft picks if Jeffery and his agent could find a suitor willing to pony up the picks. Jeffery would get a chance to gauge his market value and the Bears would still have the opportunity to match. Sounds like a good deal all-around.