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Alshon Jeffery will get a huge contract, but not from the Bears

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The Bears will probably not use the franchise tag on Jeffery, making him one of this year’s most sought-after free agents.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are not expected to use the franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Before the 2016 season, Chicago applied the franchise tender to Jeffery, but could not reach a long-term agreement on a new deal before the deadline. Tagging him again would cost the team more than $17 million, a price that’s apparently too high for a team with an estimated $58 million in cap room this year.

That is a steep price to pay for a receiver who’s had trouble staying on the field lately. A four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy kept him off the field late in the season. Injuries limited him to just nine games in 2015, but he still managed a career-high average of 89 yards per game. The No. 1 wideout hauled in 52 passes for 821 yards and two touchdowns last season.

No tag means Jeffery will be an unrestricted free agent and one of the biggest names available. True No. 1 WRs rarely hit the market, and the 27-year-old is one of the most talented receivers in the league.

Julio Jones of the Falcons is currently the highest-paid receiver in the league after signing a five-year, $71 million deal, with $35.5 million guaranteed, in 2015. He’s one of five receivers averaging more than $13 million per year. Jeffery can expect a deal along those lines.

The Bears selected the one-time Pro Bowler in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. In five years with the franchise, Jeffery has caught 304 passes for 4,549 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Earlier this year, Jeffery said, “I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year” — though he didn’t specify which team he’d be playing for. Maybe he can offer up the same promise this spring.