The Chicago Bears have a big decision to make in less than a month in regards to their number one wide receiver, Allen Robinson. He and the Bears were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension as he played out the final year of his deal in 2020, so the franchise tag is an option.
The window to tag a player opens on February 23 and closes on March 9, and if the Bears use the tag on Robinson he’ll make around $18 million in 2021.
Chicago could very well have an agreement in place to acquire a new quarterback by then, so depending on the cost and the quality of the QB, we may see some more talk of an extension between A-Rob and the Bears.
Here’s how the wide outs look this offseason for the Bears.
Allen Robinson - Free agent - If Robinson signs an extension, he could very well own a couple Bears receiving records in just a few years. He’s 238 receptions away from the top spot in that category and 1,909 yards away from that team record. I still think the two sides are far apart on an extension, and with the cap likely to drop the Bears probably won’t budge much, if at all, off their final offer.
Losing Robinson would hurt the offense for sure, so the tag seems the most likely option.
If the Bears don’t want to pay him they could let him walk, which could lead to a comp pick, or they could work a tag and trade deal.
The non exclusive franchise tag would allow him to still negotiate with other teams and if he’s signed to an offer sheet the Bears have five days to match. The new team would then have to send the Bears two first-round draft picks, so this option isn’t going to happen.
The inclusion of A-Rob in this 2021 Bears hype video is interesting.
Darnell Mooney - Signed through 2023 - If the Bears let Robinson go, that’ll leave Mooney as the de facto number WR1. While he had a splendid rookie season in 2020, I’m not sure he’s ready to make the leap to being the alpha of the receiving corps.
Javon Wims - Signed through 2021 - Wims is around to block in the running game and to paly a little on special teams, but the Bears could definitely look to upgrade. Nothing he does on the field has ever been noteworthy in a positive way.
Anthony Miller - Signed through 2021 - Miller will be heading into his contract year, and if he intends to cash in he needs to tighten up some stuff in his play. His playoff game ejection was idiotic, but he’s a talented player that has a fairly inexpensive cap hit, so he’ll get one more year to try to connect with whoever the Bears have at QB.
Cordarrelle Patterson - Free agent - I mentioned Patterson in my running backs article, so I’ll echo what I wrote here. I would love to see him brought back, but with the cap probably going down it’ll be hard to justify another 2 year, $10 million deal for the All-Pro kick returner. He’ll turn 30-years old next month, so maybe the Bears can work out an incentive laden contract to keep him around.
Riley Ridley - Signed through 2022 - Had Ridley been able to play special teams he may have been active more on game day, but as a backup behind Wims and Patterson, two guys that play in the third phase, there just wasn’t a path for Ridley to get reps.
Dwayne Harris - Free agent - Harris was brought to return punts, but he ended up on injured reserve. He might be an option to come back and take over as the full time return specialist if Patterson isn’t re-signed... and if the 33-year old fully recovers from his torn triceps.
DeAndre Carter - Free agent - Carter came in when Harris went down and at 27 he’d be a younger option to take over the return duties.
Thomas Ives - Signed a reserve/futured contract - Ives will look for a third year on the practice squad.
Rodney Adams - Signed a reserve/futured contract - Adams will look for a second year on the practice squad.
Reggie Davis - Signed a reserve/futured contract - Davis will also be looking for another practice squad year in Chicago.
Jester Weah - Signed a reserve/futured contract - Weah will be looking to make his practice squad debut with the Bears in 2021.
2021 OUTLOOK - The 2021 draft class at wide receiver is deep again, so don’t be surprised to see the Bears add some competition. I don’t think the roster spots of Wims or Ridley are secure, so get another guy in to push those players. In a perfect world one of the reserve/future guys will step up their game and become a viable option, but that’s not something you count on. Maybe they find another late round steal like Mooney, or maybe they address the position on day two. If Robinson walks, look for them to draft a player earlier if it lines up with their board.
The only way I see the Bears dipping into free agency would be if Robinson left, but it wouldn’t be for a significant amount. They’d either want a veteran journeyman type as insurance if the youngsters can’t step up, or a guy coming out of his rookie contract that hasn’t had a lot of playing time that is looking for a new opportunity.
What do you think the Bears will do at wide receiver in 2021?