The Bears can continue to negotiate with Jeffery and his agent up until July 15 on a long-term contract.
Originally drafted with the 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2012 draft, Jeffery has enjoyed a solid career with the Bears. He earned a Pro Bowl spot in his second year in the league, following a season with 89 catches, 1,421 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.
Jeffery was hampered by multiple injuries this past year, only appearing in nine games. When he did play, it was as one of the top receivers in the league. He finished with 54 catches, 807 yards and 4 touchdowns in just half a season.
Had Jeffery hit the open market, he would have been the top receiver available and would have commanded top dollar. The Bears could not afford to lose him for nothing given the uncertainty of Kevin White, who missed his entire rookie season with a stress fracture in his lower shin, which required surgery.
Update: The Bears officially placed the franchise tag on Jeffery on Monday. It was the non-exclusive type, meaning Jeffery can negotiate with other teams. If he receives an offer from another team, the Bears then have the option of either matching the offer, or letting Jeffery go and receiving two first-round draft picks as compensation.