With the Chicago Bears reportedly stalled in talks with WR Alshon Jeffery about a contract extension, I think it’s a good time to discuss what Jeffery’s contract value could be. There were a series of big name contract extensions for wide receivers last off-season and then some smaller deals for good, but not yet great, young wide receivers over the last month.
Alshon Jeffery’s talent stands somewhere near the middle of the receivers granted extensions over the last two off-seasons, so I think it makes sense to compare Jeffery’s on-field production to the group of receivers that agreed to extensions over the last calendar year. There are mixed feeling over the possible extension of Jeffery, with some analysts thinking it’s a bad idea to extend him now , others thinking the Bears should move now to lock him up before he gets too expensive, and yet others who think the Bears should let Jeffery go regardless of price.
An in-depth comparison between the stats of Jeffery and the other receivers who’ve received extensions should shed some light on what Alshon Jeffery deserves in an extended contract based on stats, future potential, and what his contemporaries have earned.
Jeffery’s 2015 stats are skewed by only starting eight games, so I used per game averages over the last three seasons to adjust for injuries and players who haven’t played a full three seasons. For the record, the Bears are paying Jeffery $14.6M this season under the franchise tag and would owe him $17.5M if the Bears were to franchise Jeffery for the 2017 season as well. That would make Jeffery the highest paid receiver in 2017, which I assume the Bears would like to avoid.
Here is a recap of the most recent contract extensions for wide receivers similar to Alshon Jeffery in age and production over the last three seasons before their extension:
Jeffery’s per game numbers are almost identical to A.J. Green’s over the last three seasons which would put him in line to receive a similar $15M per season extension except for one significant difference outlined above. Green has averaged 2.4 more games per season than Jeffery over the last three years. Green also has a better pedigree as the 4th overall pick in 2011, has only missed four starts in five years (compared to 10 in the last three years for Jeffery), and has over 1,000 receiving yards in all five years of his NFL career.
Simply put, Green has proven to be an elite receiver who will suit up every week and give his team #1 WR production. Jeffery hasn’t proven that yet. He’s shown the ability to put up similar numbers as Green when healthy but doesn’t have the track record, fortitude, or pedigree of Green and doesn’t deserve the same per year salary.
The next tier of extensions are the two $14M per year deals signed by Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas before the 2015 season. At the time, they were arguably the best two young receivers in the league and both were coming off dominant Pro Bowl seasons for playoff teams. Jeffery is coming off a season where he only started eight games on a five-win team.
Next: What is Jeffery Worth?