Something's More Important than a Receiver

Analysis: The Bears might like the contested catches Allen Robinson makes every week but they have a far greater need and if tagging and trading their star pass catcher solves this then they need to help him pack his suitcases.

It's possible the Bears have seen one of their quarterbacks overthrow Allen Robinson for the last time.

Maybe it's for the best.

Robinson has been making plenty of noise via social media and on podcasts about leaving Chicago. He went on Chris Collinsworth's podcast and said some things which indicated he'd like to go elsewhere, and some which might make Chicago fans want to see him elsewhere.

When Robinson said "You know, I'm a person who, you know, I feel like I've helped build Chicago's culture,' " he's being rather presumptuous.

The city had a culture long before Robinson. The team had a culture long before Robinson. Maybe he contributed in some very, extremely small, microscopic way to Chicago's culture would be more accurate.

Robinson flirted on social media with fans of the Jets, Ravens and Jaguars and liked the thought of playing with quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson. Kind of ironic, but some receivers would have liked the thought of playing with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky coming out of college and Robinson played with both.

Then Robinson spent an inordinate amount of time condemning the franchise tag itself because of how restrictive it is, all the while comparing himself to regular people getting a job and going from company to company, just wanting the same freedom they possess.

"The narrative of the story is so muddied up for no reason at all, when players just want what their value is," Robinson said.

"The narravitve of the story..." is nothing but political jargon. Save it for a debate  on Captiol Hill.

And news flash: The francise tag is restrictive because it's intended to be restrictive, and the reason it exists is because the players union voted to approve the collective bargaining agreement.

Robinson was among those players complaining on social media about the CBA being approved, but he's not a rank-and-file guy. He's a star. Things like the franchise tag only apply to a very limited few players. Not approving the CBA over an issue affecting so very few would be nothing short of greedy.

Robinson is a strong receiver, didn't make the Pro Bowl in Chicago yet, wasn't their leading pass catcher in 2018, has as many TD catches in three years as Davante Adams had last year and is a cut below receivers like Minnesota's Justin Jefferson and Adams because he lacks their playing speed.

Robinson ran a mere 4.6 at the combine in the 40 when he was young, before a torn ACL. 

Last season Robinson finished 137th in the league among all eligible receivers at average yards gained after the catch, 3.1 per reception. He averaged less even in 2019 (2.8). It's easy to point at the poor quarterback quality he's had throwing him passes but both Darnell Mooney (4.1) and Jimmy Graham (4.0) had the same quarterbacks and averaged more last year.

The poor quarterbacks throwing him passes? 

Washington's Cam Sims averaged 4.7 more yards after each catch fielding throws from Alex Smith and his 78.5 passer rating, as well as Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and currently unemployed Dwayne Haskins. Sims didn't have the benefit of a quarterback who was Super Bowl MVP, like Robinson did for 7 1/2 games.

All of this is moot because the simple fact is if the Bears want to be better on offense, they have to get a quarterback. The very best way they can get one is by tagging Robinson and using him in a trade with their own first-round draft pick for either better draft position in order to select one or to obtain a proven veteran.

Other teams have been using their quarterbacks in trade talks to obtain a passer they deem as better. The Raiders talk of trading Derek Carr in an attempt to net Deshaun Watson. The Bears don't have a quarterback to use for such purposes, so they need to use Robinson by tagging him and trading him.

The Bears can't fit big chunks of money like Russell Wilson or Watson get—or Dak Prescott wants—under their salary cap along with what Robinson also wants. He's  demanding in excess of $20 million a year according to reports. So be becomes the expendable one.

It's possible to bend caps with proration magic, but not by that much. Put both Robinson and a top quarterback like those three on this Bears roster and you must cut key defensive players just to get under the cap. 

And defense is still their greatest strength, according to GM Ryan Pace in Tuesday's press conference. Why get rid of it?

So they need to lose Robinson to find what really will get them wins, and that's a quarterback. 

Then they can find another receiver to chase the passes because it's far easier to find  receivers than it is to find a good quarterback.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus on Twitter called New England an ideal team for the Bears to trade Robinson to: "The Patriots could desperately use an upgrade at wide receiver like Allen Robinson ... nowhere makes more sense than the New England Patriots."

The Pats pick 15th in Round 1. If it brings the Bears a step closer to a real quarterback, so be it.

All else is secondary, including receivers who believe they've helped build Chicago's culture.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven