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Alshon Jeffery expected to stay with Bears with long-term deal or franchise tag

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Wednesday that the team is currently trying to negotiate a long-term contract with Alshon Jeffery, but the franchise tag remains an option to keep the wide receiver in town if the two sides cannot strike a deal.

"We're actively and aggressively negotiating right now," Pace said at the NFL combine. "We understand the deadline is Tuesday for the franchise tag. That's an option. We have until Tuesday to make that decision. But right now that's ongoing. But, no, that option [the franchise tag] is still on the table."

Pace stressed that he believes Jeffery's preference is to stay in Chicago.

"I sense he wants to be here," Pace said. "We're the team that drafted him. He loves the city of Chicago. He's comfortable in the offense, and I sense that he wants to be here."

Pace expects Jeffery to overcome the health issues that plagued him in 2015.

"The previous two years [2013, '14] he remained healthy," Pace said. "Last year, he had a series of injuries. We have a great sports team around him, and I've said this before -- I think being Year 2 with a player helps a lot understanding his body and his body mechanics. I think he and his agent are doing some things to improve on that. And when he gets back, we'll have a plan in place."

Jeffery appeared in just nine games last season due to a variety of health setbacks that began in training camp, when he suffered a serious calf strain in a closed walk-through practice prior to Chicago's preseason opener. Jeffery missed all four exhibition games. His season was shut down in December with a hamstring injury.

When healthy, Jeffery is one of the Bears' top players on offense, catching 54 passes for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. He tied a franchise record with three straight 100-yard receiving games against Detroit, Minnesota and San Diego.

Jeffery currently has a dozen 100-yard receiving games in his four seasons with the Bears, tied for fifth-most in franchise history. He set career highs with 89 catches for 1,421 yards in 2013. Jeffery also hauled in 10 touchdowns in 2014.