While Jeffery’s numbers don’t quite match up to those put up by Thomas and Bryant pre-extension, they are pretty close on a per game basis and factoring in inflation over the last two seasons and the fact that I don’t think Jeffery will except much less than what he will make this year… I think $14M per season is the floor of what Jeffery will ask for.
Is he worth that much of an investment by the Bears? The three receivers who have received $14M+ extensions the last two off-seasons were coming off dominant, 16-game seasons for playoff teams. Jeffery just hasn’t proven that he can provide that type of production every year.
The next receiver on the extension list is Keenan Allen and he might be the most fitting comparison to Jeffery. Allen came in the league as a 3rd round pick in 2013, a year after Jeffery was selected in round two by the Bears in 2012. They have both averaged 12-13 games played per season and missed a significant portion of a season due to injury. Allen is more of a possession receiver and not the big-play threat that Jeffery is, but both have proven to be effective at the NFL level and have Pro Bowl talent.
Allen received a four-year extension for $12M per season recently, making that the absolute floor for Jeffery’s deal. Jeffery is bigger, faster, and a more explosive play-maker. They both have similar health issues, but Allen is more of an elite #2 while Jeffery still has legit #1 potential. That should be enough to earn a little more per season than what Allen got.
It’s rumored that Jeffery has already turned down similar deals to what Allen Hurns ($10M) and Doug Baldwin ($10.5M) have received and he should have. Jeffery has been productive longer than Hurns, is more talented than Baldwin, and is bigger than both. Jeffery also is bigger, faster, more productive, and has more potential than a similarly injury-prone Keenan Allen ($12M).
Current free-agents base their salary demands on what their contemporaries are paid. Jeffery is better than Hurns, Baldwin, and Allen… but not quite a proven commodity like Bryant, Thomas, or Green. Based on the per game stats of each player and the fact that Jeffery hasn’t proven to be as consistent as the top-tier receivers, his extension should fall somewhere in between.
I don’t blame the Bears for balking at Jeffery supposed $14M-$15M contract demands, but the Hurns / Baldwin ($10Mish) type deals they offered him are a bit of an insult as well. Jeffery deserves what his production and recent WR extensions say he does, which is right around $13M per season.
I can’t see the Bears upping their offer by $2-$3M per season before the extension deadline on July 15th, but if they don’t up their offer to at least the $13M range… Then the Bears face the real threat that Jeffery plays up to his potential this year and they lose him for nothing in free agency next offseason. I’ll be posting an update on the Jeffery extension talks tomorrow.