Allen Robinson has been ranked the fourth-best free agent for the 2021 market by one website.
The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia compiled a list of the top free agents and has Robinson No. 4. Dak Prescott is No. 1.
This means nothing to Bears fans who want to see Robinson sign to stay in Chicago.
Many players on these early free agent lists eventually get taken care of by their current teams and it happens often within days of the start of free agency. So worrying about it now is simply trying to find something to worry about.
Bleacher Report put out a similar list only a few days before the start of free agency in March, not five months ahead of it. Of the top 12 free agents on the list, only two are with different teams and one of those was a player everyone seemed to want to avoid anyway, Jadeveon Clowney.
Sports Illustrated columnist Albert Breer stated Robinson seems likely to be headed elsewhere next year and it's easy to see why he said this after the on-again, off-again talks between Robinson agent Brandon Parker and the Bears earlier this year.
It's not so cut and dry.
The effect of COVID-19 on league revenues and ultimately the salary cap are severe in 2021, but it doesn't necessarily eliminate ways teams manage to afford to keep players.
In terms of being able to pay Robinson what he thinks he's worth, the Bears seem in a tough situation, but methods for keeping him still include a tag.
That would almost be an insult in 2021 because it would men he'd be playing for only a raise of about $1.5 million but it would be preferable to sitting out the season. A player who has already missed an entire season for a health issue doesn't want to do this.
It's impossible to recoup the kind of cash players miss by sitting out. It never happens and is a silly thing to do. This is especially the case with players beyond their second NFL contract. Agents who recommend this approach should be fired by players.
A team can always apply a tag and then reach a later deal, which takes advantage of a higher cap from years when COVID-19 won't affect league revenues and the cap is highe
Overthecap.com projects the Bears have only $655,428 available cap space for a projected cap of $181.7 million. Spotrac.com estimates they'll have about $2.6 million available.
Obviously they'll need to start wheeling, dealing and cutting players with bigger salaries to get into a situation where they could afford a deal for Robinson.
Reports prior to the time Robinson pulled all his Bears mentions from his social media pages and then restored them suggested the Bears thought they were going to get him back for a deal at about $16 million a year.
Spotrac.com now estimates his market value at $18.2 million a year, and it's not often these figures drop—COVID-19 cap impact or not.
Robinson hasn't wanted to talk about the contract situation since his blow-up.
"That's none of my concern right now," he said. "So whatever that road is, when we get there, we get there."
However, his agent doesn't seem to mind fanning the flames for his client. On Twitter, Parker was blasting the Bears last week for not throwing the ball to Robinson in the red zone enough.
Robinson has only seven of the 60 red-zone targets the Bears have had this season. Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham has 13 of them.
More touchdown catches could mean more contract leverage or a higher seat at the free agent table.
"I've always said since Day 1, I run what's called," Robinson said. "I don't really get too caught up into that. Whatever's asked of me in my job, I go out there and do to the best of my ability.
"So again, whatever's called, I run what's called. I've said that since Day 1. Hopefully in these next six games, we can get down there, first, and get some more red-zone opportunities. Then I should come away with more red-zone touchdowns."
It's easy to envision a roster without Robinson on it, but there are the miracles of contract restructuring still.
Players like Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. have to be considered in play as salary cap victims, too, not because of poor play but simply because they offer cap savings.
Those two in particular could provide $11.6 million in cap savings on a post-June 1 cuts.
Kyle Fuller is a huge potential cap saver, as well, but cutting a player as effective as he is at a difficult position is not productive.
If it comes down to keeping Fuller or Robinson, it only makes sense to keep Fuller because the Bears offense is already nearly last in the league with Robinson. What would it mean losing him, finishing last? Big deal.
This is not to diminish Robinson, though. He is a valuable player and there simply are limits to all players' values.
There are other alternatives to losing big free agents, like drafting someone who plays for much cheaper. In Robinson's case, the Bears have young receivers like Javon Wims—when he's not fighting—or Riley Ridley who can play the position.
All these are possibilities but this far in advance it's way to early to project anything about Robinson other than he's on the free agent list, and still may not even reach the marketplace like many other players on it because of potential cash-finding options available.