Draft Is a Tell All

Bears continue to operate tight against the cap and a new Allen Robinson contract could give them cap relief but if they draft an X-receiver it can signify their aim to move on at the position after 2021.
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Allen Robinson signed off on the franchise tag and his $17.9 million for this year without cementing his situation. 

The Bears haven't poured a foundation for his future because he still lacks a long-term contract extension.

This is an uncertain situation until finalized, and while the Bears would benefit greatly from an extension in two ways there is no way to say which direction it's going until about a month from now, unless they actually do reach terms on an extension.

Within the next 3 1/2 weeks, though, Robinson's future should become obvious. That's because the draft will be a big indicator.

The Bears have been looking closely at the wide receiver crop and slot receiver is a big focus. It's not the only way they could go. According to Zack Pearson’s list tracking visits with prospects on the Bear Report, they had talks with Tylan Wallace, Rondale Moore and D'Wayne Eskridge. All are slot receivers.

They also were well represented at USC's pro day and Trojans receiver Amon-Ray St. Brown is mentioned often by draft analysts as a second- or third-round talent who would be an X-receiver in college but has ability to play either outside or inside.

However, if the Bears draft Minnesota's Rashod Bateman or possibly another X-receiver like Michigan's Nico Collins, it could signal this will be a full year under the tag for Robinson with his spot being taken by a 2021 rookie in 2022.

Drafting an X-receiver would make no sense if they're planning on Robinson long term due to the many other needs facing the team. And if they did draft an X-receiver, it's going to make for an awfully uncomfortable final season in Chicago for Robinson.

One of the major offensive needs the Bears have is to be faster at wide receiver. The only receiver they have with sub-4.5 speed in the 40 is Darnell Mooney.

There is no one among the current group of Bears receivers capable of succeeding Robinson, and that goes for Darnell Mooney. He doesn't have the X-receiver body type or verticality, although he definitely has excellent hands. A bigger frame and stronger build like Robinson has is critical because of the beating an X-receiver takes, and Mooney already had a disastrous injury for the Bears at the end of the regular season last year.

Keeping Robinson long term would mean having a receiver in his 30s at the end of his next contract but it would be difficult to find a more productive receiver than Robinson regardless of speed.

The cap situation is remains difficult for the Bears this year. 

As of March 29, they were at $2.1 million below the cap according to Spotrac.com, with only  deals for Damien Williams, Desmond Trufant, Christian Jones and Artie Burns among those yet to be posted.

Operating at a level so tight to the borderline makes for a challenging situation and it's possible the Bears will want to resolve that by finally giving Robinson a long-term contract.

If not, there should be plenty of drama come the draft.

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