The Chicago Bears kicked off free agency with a splash, signing former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson to a three-year, $42 million deal in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday. The signing will be made official when free agency kicks off on Wednesday at 3 P.M. CT.
It was known that fixing the wide receiver position was going to be emphasized this off-season, and the Bears went all out in signing the best free agent available. Robinson, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2015, gives them a true No. 1 target for Mitchell Trubisky to throw to.
To get to know Robinson better, we reached out to our sister site Big Cat Country, the Jaguars’ source at SB Nation. Editor Ryan Day answered a few questions about Robinson and what Bears fans should expect from him.
For those who are unfamiliar with Robinson’s game, what does he excel at, and what are his weaknesses?
Day: Robinson is a tough, physical guy. He’s an excellent route-runner, he can win 50-50 balls, and he can make back shoulder catches along the sideline with ease. Any receiver who can excel with Blake Bortles as his quarterback is a good player. Any team who adds Robinson to their team is looking to do two things: go more vertical in the middle of the field and become more efficient in the red zone. In the first 80 yards, Robinson will play outside. He’ll command extra attention and it will help your run game. In the red zone, especially when you’re within the 10-yard line, look for Robinson to be your slot guy and the quarterback’s first read. That’s how he was used in 2015 and 2016, and he succeeded.
Robinson had a phenomenal 2015 season statistically, but his performance in 2016 wasn’t as impressive. Did that fall more on the shoulders of poor quarterback play, or did his play regress in general?
Day: It was a little bit of everything. Robinson didn’t look 100 percent in 2016, Bortles played really poorly, and the run game sucked. Defenses were able to play the pass because the run game was going nowhere. The coaching staff was also directionless with Gus Bradley at the helm and I think he could have benefited from a head coach with some vision like the Jaguars have in Doug Marrone.
How do you expect Robinson to bounce back from his ACL injury?
Day: I think he’s going to do really, really well, honestly. I think Chicago’s run game is good enough to not be ignored by opposing defenses, but I do worry about Trubisky. That Bears passing game was pretty bad last year. Some of that is due to Kendall Wright being your best receiver (gross): but is Trubisky better than Bortles? He wasn’t last year. If Trubisky is able to improve in his sophomore season, I think Robinson will be fine.
Why didn’t Jacksonville choose to pursue Robinson harder?
Day: The Jaguars don’t value the wide receiver position anymore. It’s that simple. They used their first two draft picks last year to bolster their run game, they’re signing Andrew Norwell tomorrow, and they’re letting Robinson and Marqise Lee go to save cap room so that they can continue to build around the run. They’re taking the offense out of Bortles’ hands even more than they did last year (which is totally fine by me). I’d instead rather upgrade quarterback through free agency and the draft. It seems this front office has a modus operandi of “Blake is our quarterback, how do we win with him?”
What should Bears fan expect out of Robinson in 2018 and beyond?
Day: Expect a committed guy, a great sub-tweeter, and an excellent route runner. I think his days of dropping easy passes and underperforming like in 2016 are behind him. Hope that Trubisky gets better or you’re wasting a Pro Bowl caliber guy.