Again and again this offseason we have come back to the idea that it might be a good idea for the New York Giants to find a big wide receiver who can complement the smaller, quicker wide receivers the Giants have like Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and — if they keep him — Victor Cruz.
Today, let’s turn our attention to the player who is at the top of the food chain when it comes to the big-bodied wide receivers who could be free agents in March. That would be Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears.
Should the Giants be interested in the 26-year-old Jeffery? Even if they are interested, can they find a way to afford him? As we have discussed, estimates are that the Giants will have somewhere around $33 million to spend, and they have decisions to make on their own high-priced free agents, specifically Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins.
Spotrac’s Market Value Tool estimates that Jeffery could be in line for a deal in the neighborhood of five years, $61 million. That would put his annual salary slightly above $12 million.
Is he worth that kind of commitment?
Jeffery is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound monster who is undeniably the most talented of the big wide receivers who could be available. In five seasons with the Chicago Bears, Jeffery caught 304 passes. In 2013 he had 89 catches and 1,421 receiving yards, and backed that up with an 85-catch, 1,133-yard 2014 season.
Injuries (he has missed 11 games) and the Bears’ uncertain quarterback situation limited him to 50 and 54 catches the past two seasons.
While his number of receptions was down in 2016, the type of catches he made illustrate the value he could bring to the Giants. Next Gen Stats ranked Jeffery No. 2 in the league in percentage of catches made against tight coverage, with a 60.9 percent catch rate. That is a skill Eli Manning and the Giants could use.
Will the Bears let Jeffery go? That is still uncertain, but Pro Football Focus believes Jeffery is headed to the open market:
The Bears will likely part ways with Jeffery this offseason, having been toying with the idea of locking him down long-term over the past few seasons. Jeffery has missed too much time for the team to be able to confidently rely on him as their No. 1 target long-term, and his elite play has been too fleeting over the past few seasons. In 2016, he recorded more than five catches just twice, and had only one 100-yard plus game (in the first week of the season). Jeffery has shown big-time ability, but the Bears will likely let somebody else roll the dice on the big contract it will take to see it in the future.
The Giants don’t have an exorbitant amount of money to spend in free agency. Would you be OK with them spending a big chunk of it on Jeffery, or should they play in the shallower end of the free-agent pool?