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After Tagging, What's Next for Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson becomes the first Bears player tagged since 2018 and first with a franchise tag since Alshon Jeffery in 2016 but it doesn't necessarily mean he'll be in Chicago in 2021.

Allen Robinson will get a pay hike for the 2021 season.

It's definitely not the pay hike he wanted.

In a widely anticipated move, the Bears Tuesday placed a franchise free agent tag on their veteran wide receiver.

Robinson would make $18 million for 2021 if he must play under the tag. League rules say he would receive whichever is larger, 120% of his 2020 salary cap hit or the average pay of the top five players at his position over the past five seasons. His cap hit was $15 million last year so he would make $18 million.

There is no guarantee he makes that amount or that he even plays in Chicago. 

The Bears are allowed to trade him after tagging him and there is plenty of speculation they are looking to trade something for a quarterback, either draft picks or a player(s) or both. Could one of those players be Robinson?

Also, he could simply receive a larger contract eventually if the Bears somehow wound up with more salary cap space than they anticipated. 

To get Robinson under the cap, the Bears will need to restructure some salaries or cut more players by the start of free agency at 3 p.m. on March 17. They have already cut Buster Skrine and Bobby Massie but have more to gain.

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Surprisingly, another top receiver in the NFC North did not get tagged. The Detroit Lions let Kenny Golladay get onto the open market.

Over the last three seasons with the Bears, Robinson made 255 catches for 3,151 yards with 17 touchdowns. He hasn't made the Pro Bowl since joining the Bears due largely to severe competition.

The tag ends, for now, the back and forth going on over the possibility of a contract or a tag. Robinson has made it clear on social media how he felt about the restrictions of a tag while the Bears kept saying all along they appreciate what he brings to the team and want him back.

The greatest reason the Bears have been unable to sign Robinson has been the reduced salary cap due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cap is based on league revenues and they shrank in 2020 without fans at games.

It's possible it will rise in the future and it would make signing Robinson to a longer-term deal then more possible.

Then again, there is also the possibility Robinson would reject the tag and sit out the season, but this is rarely done. Possibly the most famous case of this was Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell sitting out. Usually such threats have been made before a second tag is applied. Teams can apply tags two times to a player.

Robinson is the first Bears player to be tagged since Kyle Fuller in 2018, but Fuller received the transition tag. This is a lesser version with less restriction and the Bears were able to retain his services by matching an offer to him made by the Green Bay Packers.

The last Bears player who received the franchise tag was also a wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery in 2016. Jeffery played on the tag for one season, then was allowed to leave as a free agent and sign in Philadelphia.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven