Alshon Jeffery shrugs off franchise tag talk; intends to let agent negotiate

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears free-agent receiver Alshon Jeffery stressed on Monday that he “loves the city of Chicago,” but said he plans to let his representatives handle all future contract negotiations.

“I love the city of Chicago, but I’ll let my agent and [Bears general manager Ryan] Pace deal with that situation,” Jeffery said. “I just play football.”

Jeffery shrugged off the possibility of Chicago applying the franchise tag in lieu of a new long-term deal. The projected franchise tag amount for wide receivers in 2016 is expected to exceed $14 million.

“If it happens, it happens,” Jeffery said. “I just play football, I’ll let my agent and Mr. Pace figure that out.”

The Bears have not ruled out franchising Jeffery, but Pace said he prefers to sign players to multiyear agreements.

A combination of injuries to his calf, ankle, hamstring, shoulder and groin forced Jeffery to miss seven games in 2015, but he still led the Bears with 54 receptions for 807 yards.

"Obviously when Alshon played he was explosive and a playmaker for our offense," Pace said. "The previous two seasons he’d been healthy and highly productive. He was frustrated by his injuries. We were frustrated by his injuries. We got to get a better grasp of that. Part of the evaluation of a player is his injuries and his availability. We’ll take that into account."

The 6-foot-3 wideout said he is determined to stay healthy next season, but does not intend to alter the way he trains in the offseason.

“I plan on having a hell of an offseason, work out the soft tissue issues, stuff like that,” Jeffery said. “I’m just ready to get back to playing football.

“I’m going to do the same things I’ve been doing, just taking care a lot more of my body, injuries, freak injuries -- like hamstrings -- stuff like that. I wasn’t concerned at all. Things happen. I played the last two seasons, I played every game. This year, unfortunately, was one of those seasons.”

Jeffery has 252 catches for 3,728 yards and 24 touchdowns over four seasons in Chicago. He made the Pro Bowl in 2013.

Fellow Bears receiver Kevin White told reporters he is optimistic about Jeffery’s prospects of returning. White and Jeffery share the same off-the-field representatives.

“They want to get it done,” White said. “Al wants to stay here; we want him to stay here, so I think it'll be some good things happening on the field if he stays.”

Jeffery responded: “I think [White and I] could do something special [on the field together]. Hopefully it’ll work out.”