NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday morning the Bears aren't expected to franchise tag the wide receiver, per sources.
Jeffery played under the tag in 2016, earning $14.599 million. If the Bears utilized the tag on Jeffery again it would cost them $17.5 million, a price too rich for a receiver that missed 11 games the past two seasons. Teams have until March 1 to apply franchise tags.
Jeffery earned 821 yards and two touchdowns on 52 receptions in 2016, as he dealt with a four-game suspension and instability at the quarterback position. If Jeffery walks in free agency, Chicago will be left with a mostly young, unproven receiver corps led by Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.
Heading to the open market, Jeffery's size and skill will make him one of the top receiver targets in free agency, if the Bears can't get a long-term deal done before the new league year opens on March 9.
Chicago has balked at paying Jeffery A.J. Green/Dez Bryant money in the past. But with several teams, including the Eagles, Rams, 49ers, Titans, etc., in need of receiver help, Jeffery should cash in when the bidding begins.