INDIANAPOLIS -- Negotiations toward a long-term deal will continue but the Chicago Bears are not taking any chances with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
The Bears plan to use the franchise tag designation Jeffery, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, to retain refusal rights and keep him off the open market.
On Wednesday, coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace said the Bears were aggressively pursuing a deal with Jeffery.
The franchise tag would pay Jeffery a one-year salary of $14.4 million if a long-term deal cannot be reached by the NFL's deadline of July 15.
Jeffery appeared in nine games for the Bears in 2015 but was never fully healthy following a muscle strain in his leg in August. Jeffery ended the season on injured reserve with 54 receptions for a team-high 807 yards with four touchdowns. His 89.7 receiving yards per game average is eighth in the NFL in 2015.
Fox said Jeffery was "worth the risk" after a season defined by injuries.
The Bears expect to have as much as $52 million of salary cap space when the new league year begins March 9 but will lose a chunk of that to retain Jeffery.
Chicago last used the franchise tag in 2013 on running back Matt Forte.