Bears hang tag on Alshon Jeffery

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To no one’s surprise, the Chicago Bears used their franchise tag designation on WR Alshon Jeffery. The move gives the Bears more time to try and hammer out a long-term deal with Jeffery with no threat of losing him. Clubs have until July 15 to negotiate a contract.

Jeffery has appeared in 51 games with 44 starts over four seasons (2012-15) with the Bears, hauling in 252 receptions for 3,728 yards (14.8 ypr) and 24 touchdowns. Since 2013, Jeffery ranks ninth in the NFL in receiving yards (3,361) and tied for 14th in receiving touchdowns (21) in 41 games played.

The second-round selection (45th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft is one of five players in franchise history with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, accomplishing the feat in 2013 (1,421 yards) and 2014 (1,133 yards). His 1,421 receiving yards in 2013 are second-most in Bears single-season history and helped him earn his first Pro Bowl selection. His 12 100-yard receiving games are already tied for 12th most in franchise history. Jeffery also holds the top two single-game marks in franchise annals for receiving yards: 249 at Minnesota (12/1/13) and 218 versus New Orleans (10/6/13).

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Bears release OT Bushrod

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Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace continued with his makeover of the Bears roster Tuesday by releasing veteran OT Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod, coming off an injury-plagued season and the loss of a starting job, was a solid presence in the locker room but never approached the play he displayed in New Orleans.

The move frees up additional money for the Bears as free agency looms on March 9. The Bears rank in the top five teams in the NFL in terms of money available under the salary cap.

In releasing Bushrod, Pace noted, “We thank Jermon for his contributions to the Bears. I have so much respect for how he carries himself on and off the field.  He was a locker room leader and contributor in helping the younger players on our team grow.  We wish him and his family the best as they move forward.”

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Bears round out coaching staff with new hires

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Head coach John Fox filled out his Chicago Bears coaching staff on Monday, announcing two new hires and a promotion. Among the moves was filling the receivers coaching position with an experienced coach and the addition of a name that might be familiar to football fans.

Below are capsules on the assistants:

Curtis Johnson

Johnson has 32 years coaching experience including the last four as head coach at Tulane after 28 seasons as a wide receivers coach at the NFL, collegiate and high school levels.

In four seasons (2012-15) at Tulane, Johnson compiled a 15-34 record, highlighted by the school’s first bowl bid in 11 years following the 2013 season.

From 2006-11 Johnson was the wide receivers coach of the New Orleans Saints. During those six seasons, Johnson helped the wide receivers become part of a Saints passing offense that led the NFL in gross passing yards (28,749), completion percentage (67.6) and passing touchdowns (202). The Saints had 42 100-yard receiving performances by wide receivers during those six seasons. The Saints made four playoff appearances, won three division titles and won Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 season while Johnson was with the team. In 2011, New Orleans established an NFL record for gross passing yards (5,505; now second in NFL history)

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