As the Bears’ offseason schedule continues this week, the team is likely to proceed without the presence of veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery has been absent from organized team activities so far this offseason and instead has been working out on his own in Miami. At face value, his absence from a voluntary portion of team practices would not be anything alarming. A lot of top athletes choose to work out separate from their teams — although it’s highly discouraged and often frowned upon — because they want to stick with what has worked for them in the past.
But adding to the layer of drama surrounding Jeffery’s absence is his looming contract status, having signed the franchise tag tender but still hoping for a lucrative, long-term contract.
According to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, rumors emanating from league circles say that the Bears are unlikely to push hard to give Jeffery that big contract he is seeking. And if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on a new deal by the NFL’s July 15 deadline, things could get awfully uncomfortable this season.
While Jeffery is likely to show up when practices become mandatory — at June’s minicamp and training camp in July — there appears to be a looming standoff as the team heads into the 2016 season. The Bears will be looking for Jeffery to give his all every down that he’s on the field, and while Jeffery will be playing for a big contract next offseason, he’ll also be looking to protect himself from a serious injury that could take him out of the big money.