The Chicago Bears slapped the franchise tag on wide out Allen Robinson at last Tuesday’s deadline, which was always the most logical outcome, after A-Rob led the Bears in receptions for the third consecutive year and receiving yards for a second straight season.
He’s proven his value to the Bears, but with the 2021 salary cap in flux with the pandemic affecting the league, reports had the Bears tabling talks about an extension.
The lack of long-term extension talk bothered Robinson and his representation, but he’s guaranteed $17.89 million if he plays on the tag.
The Bears have bought themselves time to work out a contract, but why would they, or A-Rob for that matter, want to get anything done before knowing what’s happening at the quarterback spot?
Robinson deserves his money for sure, but he also deserves to play with a better quarterback. Once this QB saga is resolved, whether that be with Russell Wilson, Sam Darnold, a rookie, or even Nick Foles (to name a few), then the two sides can get down to business about the future.
CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, who worked as a sports agent for several years, recently gave his thoughts on what he would ask for if he were representing some of the top 2021 NFL free agents.
Here’s what his target price for Robinson would be:
Contract package: $90 million, four years ($22.5 million per year)
Overall guarantees: $60 million
Fully guaranteed at signing: $48 million
Robinson would have been in high demand on the open market if the Bears hadn’t designated him as a franchise player. It’s going to cost the Bears $17.98 million because he is entitled to a 20% increase over his $15 million 2020 salary cap number under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement rules after subtracting out his $100,000 workout bonus then adding it back after the raise. There has been speculation that the Bears will trade Robinson, much like the Dolphins did with Jarvis Landry in 2018 after giving him a franchise tag. Talks between Robinson and the Bears failing to produce a new contract last year led to rumors of him requesting a trade.
Robinson surely took note of the four-year extension wide receiver Keenan Allen got from the Chargers early last September — averaging $20.25 million per year with $50 million of guarantees — while he was still negotiating with the Bears. Shortly thereafter, DeAndre Hopkins replaced Julio Jones — whose three-year extension from the Falcons averaged $22 million per year — as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver on his two-year, $54.5 million extension ($27.25 million per year) with the Cardinals.
I never bought the theory that Robinson was seeking $25 million annually, and this proposal is more in lines of where I figured things would land. When looking at contracts, the key number is the guaranteed money, and a bigger guarantee than what Keenan Allen received is likely what they’ll want.
This deal would give Robinson the long term security he desires, but also probably give the Bears an out after three years if they structure it like they’ve done contracts in the past.
A trade wouldn’t surprise me, but if the Bears were to go that route the return would likely be underwhelming. For as good as Robinson is, there won’t be any teams willing to give up a first round pick for him. The Browns sent a 4th-round pick and a future 7th-rounder for Landry back in 2018, and Landry was a guy that was coming off a third consecutive Pro Bowl, with no injury history, more production, and was two years younger than Robinson is right now.
A trade for anything more than a midround pick would surprise me, but I don’t see it getting to that point unless the Bears miss on making a massive upgrade at quarterback.
The early negotiating period for free agency starts today at 11:00 a.m. CT, so keep it locked right here at WCG for all the breaking Bears news.