There aren't many routes that a receiver can run inside the red zone, especially the cramped quarters inside the 10-yard line. Most prominent are the "fade" and the "slant," as Alshon Jeffery pointed out Friday.

The wide receiver has had success running both over his five years in the NFL, but asked for one in which he excelled at the most, Jeffery cut to the chase.

"Just throw it up," the new Eagles receiver said.

Jeffery's forte has long been climbing the ladder and winning jump balls against defensive backs. He's done it all over the field, but where that skill is most needed is inside the 20-yard line. The former Bears receiver, however, hasn't had as many opportunities nor has he been as successful, over the last two seasons as he was earlier in his career.

Jeffery's red zone numbers during that span are a microcosm of his final two years in Chicago. For various reasons, he failed to reach the heights he scaled during his second and third years. Injuries plagued his 2015 season. A four-game suspension marred his 2016. And the dismal Bears and their unsettled quarterback situation made matters even worse.

It is why, when Jeffery became a free agent last week, many weren't shocked that he chose to leave the Windy City. The Bears made an offer but would not match the Eagles. Their decision to walk away wasn't much of a surprise either, considering the 27-year-old's recent health and his bust for using a performance-enhancing substance.

But when the contract was revealed (one year for $14 million) and the details eventually released (only $8.75 million is fully guaranteed), something appeared to be missing. How could arguably the best receiver on the market fail to sign a long-term, big-money deal when someone like the 30-year-old DeSean Jackson signed for three years and $35 million, with $20 million guaranteed?

With so much money available, the former Eagles receiver somehow received a contract that paid him more than $3 million per year more than he had gotten in his previous deal.

Jeffery will make slightly less than he earned in 2016, when the Bears put the franchise tag on him. (He'll get $14.6 million, should he hit $4.5 million in incentives.) But he still received the highest one-year, non-tag contract in NFL history. It's not chump change.

But clearly he is looking for more.

"I don't really think about that. My focus is just on playing football," Jeffery said when asked about his motivation for a long-term contract next offseason. "Whatever happens after the season, happens."

Make no mistake, Jeffery's coming to Philadelphia was mostly a business decision. And who could fault him? He also had offers from the Colts and Vikings. Minnesota offered a multiyear deal worth around $11 million a year, per NFL sources. But in deciding to bet on himself for a year, he chose quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles.

But what did the Eagles get in return? Will Jeffery revert to his 2013-14 form, when he averaged 87 catches for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns, or will he continue to miss games and opportunities in the red zone?

Last season, Eagles receivers caught just a total of seven touchdown passes, five in the red zone. In 2013, six of Jeffery's 10 touchdowns came in the red zone. From 2013 to 2014, he caught 14 of 40 red zone targets for 95 yards and nine touchdowns. From 2015 to 2016, he caught 9 of 27 targets for 91 yards and four touchdowns.

In 2016, Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor caught a combined 16 of 38 targets for 129 yards and five touchdowns. Jeffery's red zone numbers over his career aren't staggeringly better, but it's not as if he had an elite quarterback in Jay Cutler.

Jeffery's best seasons also came with receiver Brandon Marshall on the other side of the offense. He had begun to eclipse his mentor in 2014, but injuries and the suspension prevented him from fully embracing the No. 1-receiver role.

He'll play opposite the newly acquired Torrey Smith in Philly and alongside Matthews in the slot, but Jeffery should become Wentz's first option on many routes. The Eagles haven't had a man-to-man-beating receiver of his caliber in years. Even when Jeffery's covered, he really isn't covered because he can win balls in the air.

"I just think it's something that comes natural," Jeffery said. "I don't know if there's a secret or not."

His 101/4-inch hands may be the secret. Or maybe it's his basketball background. Jeffery was all-South Carolina in high school.

If there's a knock on the receiver it's that he lacks the speed to break away from defenders at the top of his routes.

"He's not going to create separation laterally," an NFC personnel executive said. "And he still needs to be a more disciplined route runner. He's better using his size to box out defensive backs."

After missing seven games in 2015, Jeffery showed up in 2016 in what the Bears said at the time was the best shape of his career. But after eight games, he was suspended by the league.

"I'm focusing more on what I put in my body. Just being more careful," Jeffery said. "I'm past that. I'm going to have the right team in place, everyone around me, we're on the same page from this team standpoint. . . . I'm pretty sure it's never going to happen again."

If it does, he would face a 10-game suspension.

The Eagles, however, believed that they knew enough about Jeffery's character before committing to him. Joe Douglas, vice president of player personnel, spent 2015 with the Bears. New receivers coach Mike Groh was Jeffery's position coach in Chicago from 2013 to 2015.

Jeffery, who grew up in small- town St. Matthews, S.C., is soft-spoken. But his Bears teammates voted him captain last season and he said his reserve belies an inner drive.

"I'm laid-back, but I got some fire in me sometimes," Jeffery said. "It's just my competitive nature."

How else to explain all those jump balls that he wins?

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane