The Eagles surprised a lot of people last week by signing the best available free agent wide receiver on the market, Alshon Jeffery, to a one-year contract. Philadelphia finally has a true No. 1 wide receiver again.
Since Jeffery signed last week, we’ve written a lot about him. We talked about how he thinks Carson Wentz is going to be NFL MVP one day. And about how his contract is very team-friendly. And how he’s already bonding with his new quarterback. And how he fits into the offense. And more.
But now it’s time to get some inside insight on Jeffery. Here’s a question and answer exchange with Chicago Bears writer Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. from Windy City Gridiron.
1 - What was the reaction from Bears fans when Jeffery signed with the Eagles?
“Many Bears fans were ready for Jeffery to move on. In 2015 he had a bunch of nagging injuries that took about half his season, and some thought he was going easy because of his contract situation. He wanted a long term deal, last year, but the Bears wanted to make him prove he could play a full year, so he was franchise tagged. Even though he attended all the mandatory workouts last off-season, he wasn't with his teammates for the voluntary stuff, and that irked plenty of fans. He was having a solid 2016 season, but the 4 game PED suspension was the last straw for some.”
“Other fans wanted him back, because the Bears do have a lack of play-makers, and when Jeffery is right, he can make plays.”
2 - Are fans disappointed the Bears didn’t keep him? Why or why not?
“Some were, but the market dictated that the Bears were wise in not breaking the bank for him. He wanted big money, but honestly, his lone Pro Bowl season came in 2013, playing opposite Brandon Marshall. His 2014 season was solid, but the soft tissue injuries started to creep up that year. He managed to play in all 16 games, but he spent a lot of time on the injury report.”
3 - What are his strengths?
“At 6'3", he's a go up and get it wide out. He has good body control, he's able to body off the defender and high point the ball. He has strong hands, and the ball rarely gets into his body on catches. He's also a decent blocker.”
4 - What are his weaknesses?
“He's not the fastest, his route running has been called into question on occasion, but honestly, Jeffery is a damn good football player. He may not be a Julio Jones type of #1 WR, but he belongs in the next tier of #1 receivers.”
5 - To the best of your knowledge, what’s Jeffery like off the field?
“Besides him not training with his teammates last year, and the PED suspension, there really hasn't been any negative stuff from him. He's a classy guy and even though I'm sure he has the WR-Diva gene (they all do), his is a bit on the mellow side.”
6 - Jeffery is a free agent after this season. Even if it’s not necessarily realistic, would you like the Bears to try to bring him back next year?
“Personally, I would, he's a talented player. Plus, I know the only way the Bears would entertain the idea, is if he has a great 2017. The Bears had some QB issues and a young play caller in 2016, so Jeffery didn't have the bets chance to prove he deserves a huge contract. It would not surprise me to see Jeffery go for 80/1,000/10 with the Eagles.”
Here’s a general blurb on Alshon our friend Lester wrote about Jeffery prior to free agency.
Jeffery had his lone Pro Bowl season playing opposite Brandon Marshall in 2013. The Bears got rid of Marshall thinking Jeffery would be their #1, and he was, but his numbers weren’t all that impressive. In 2014, even though he played in all 16 games, he seemed to be on the injury report every week with a soft tissue injury. His yards per game dropped by 18 yards per game.
In 2015, which was his contract year by the way, the soft tissue injuries caught up with him, causing him to miss 6 games. He was solid when he played however, posting a career best 89.7 receiving yards per game. Last season he played under the franchise tag, and while he stayed healthy, a 4 game PED suspension could have soured the Bears on re-signing him.
In my opinion, Jeffery is a notch below the top wideouts in the game, but he’s a quality go up and get it red zone target capable of consistently eclipsing 80 and 1,000 in the right offense if he stays on the field.
Alshon Jeffery spider graph:
Just look at how big those mitts are.
Alshon Jeffery’s got some pretty big hands. Him versus @EaglesInsider: pic.twitter.com/42TkrrgMDY— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 14, 2017
And finally, a highlights video (warning: music NSFW). Enjoy.