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Bears use franchise tag on Allen Robinson

As a last resort, and with no extension in place, the Bears deploy a typical CBA tool to keep their top receiver in the fold.

Indianapolis Colts v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have used their franchise tag on Allen Robinson, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. As this is their sole franchise tag of the 2021 off-season, they will only be able to transition tag any other of their rostered players moving forward.

According to the parameters of the franchise tag, which averages out pay for individual players based on the mean salary of the five highest-paid at a given position, the 27-year-old receiver will earn $17.88 million in 2021. That is technically a net gain on a per-year basis for Robinson — who averaged $14 million per season on a contract signed in free agency back in 2018 — but it is nowhere near the long-term security he has been seeking since last March. Negotiations from that point on with general manager Ryan Pace, or lack thereof, stalled altogether before the franchise tag finally came into play at the buzzer (the deadline to use the tag).

There could and probably should have been a cleaner resolution for Pace, Robinson, and the Bears. Already one of the franchise’s all-time leading pass targets, coupled with his status as one of football’s best receivers the past three seasons while catching footballs from the illustrious group of Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, and Nick Foles, Robinson has certainly warranted a long-term contract with compensation worthy of his elite cornerstone stature. And the Bears, devoid of much of any field-tilting offensive playmakers, could nary afford to lose their best receiver’s services. It’s unfortunate it came to this resolution for all parties involved, especially in regards to fair labor.

Using the franchise tag with nary an attempt at a good-faith negotiation for months does not spell out sunshine and rainbows for the star pass catcher’s relationship with higher-ups at Halas Hall. Far from it. There’s been a lot of goodwill burned that the Bears will have to diligently work to repair or risk alienating Robinson even further — who has been outspoken on social media with his unhappiness at the situation.

For now, Robinson returns to Chicago, albeit on frustrated terms. Perhaps, in the coming weeks, the Bears can make the return more palatable and at least pair him with a quarterback worthy of his talent. They should hope so.