Why Allen Robinson Should Play Hard to Get with Bears

The options for the Bears if they can't come up with a deal for Allen Robinson appear gloomy at best, so he owns a distinct advantage in contract negotiations
Author:
Publish date:

It is true Allen Robinson was slighted by being left off the 2020 Pro Bowl roster.

Robinson had 31 more receptions than Tampa Bay's Mike Evans last year, but Evans made it and Robinson didn't. Evans had one more touchdown and 10 more yards, so it was a close call.

What's far more important than the Pro Bowl is the Bears' future and whether they need Robinson in it beyond 2020. 

They'll obviously have him available this season. It should be a clear-cut a decision about getting him a contract extension, although he has the Bears where he wants them and it's not the other way around. 

Robinson would be well advised to maximize his earning power by fighting hard through his agent for everything he wants after having his career pass before his eyes a few years ago with an ACL tear in a contract year.

In 2021, the Bears would have the option of using a franchise tag. It's not a practice they have regularly employed and they could be expected to avoid this. In the end, they might need to because Robinson would be worth using it to keep.

This year the franchise tag for wide receivers was $17.8 million and for transition tags was $15.6 million. Robinson counts $15 million this year against their cap already.

Robinson was obtained as the X-receiver, their go-to target and last year no doubt lived up to this with 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Bears no doubt would love to have Robinson's yardage total increase. He's had more than last year's total just once in his career, 1,400 yards in Jacksonville in 2014. 

There's another element to a receiver's totals and that's having an actual passer to get him the ball and a line to make it possible.

He had to make so many catches the last two years with someone draped on his back that yardage after the catch has been at a minimum, but his role largely is the receiver who literally goes vertical for the ball rather than one who stretches the field deep or catches underneath routes and breaks them. He's hauling in the jump ball and the tough catches on third down at a medium distance.

They will have spent $42.8 million against their cap over the past three seasons for Robinson when the 2020 season ends and he'd no doubt anticipate higher pay.

The market will dictate much much higher. 

Wide receivers of Robinson's productivity hardly fall to teams out of the draft every year, although some seem to think it happened with this year's draft class. Time will and that's the problem with relying on the draft for receiver talent. It usually takes two or three years for wide receivers to deliver and it's always been difficult for rookies.

The Bears could expect one of their own to develop, or go find one in free agency as they did in Robinson's case.

On their own roster, Javon Wims and Riley Ridley both have the vertical receiver ability. Wims is tall and Ridley came to Chicago with the reputation for winning 50-50 throws. And neither has shown an ability to consistently live up to Robinson's standards yet.

Here is a sample of the top names available in free agency after this year when Robinson's contract expires:

Ty Hilton, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Keenan Allen, Sammy Watkins, Marvin Jones, Kenny Stills, Mohamed Sanu, Breshad Perriman, Corey Davis and Willie Snead.

This list is dotted with old players like Fitzgerald or Green. It has players whose productivity failed to quite cross that go-to receiver threshold like Sanu, Stills or Hilton.

There are players like Perriman, whose promise far exceeds anything he has done on a field.

This is largely a list of players who don't stack up as future investments on the level of Robinson, who is still only 26 and shouldn't command the top dollar amounts.

Fitzgerald once would have been one, but no more.

Watkins might be the best of the bunch next to Robinson, but with a high-yardage total of 1,047 and high catch total of 65 he simply hasn't had the overall productivity of Robinson.

The problem for the Bears is Robinson knows he has the market cornered. He is a high-end, high-demand receiver in a year when the free agent availability will be sadly lacking.

A longer delay in getting a deal done with Robinson would seem more likely because of this situation.

For Robinson, it could come down to needing the security after what he went through with the ACL tear.

The Bears would be well-advised to be as generous as possible with one of the few receivers worth having for long period out of the 2021 free agency class.

Top 2021 Free Agent Receivers

Allen Robinson, Bears

Ty Hilton, Colts

A.J. Green , Bengals

Larry Fitzgerald , Cardinals

Keenan Allen , Chargers

Sammy Watkins, Chiefs 

Marvin Jones Jr., Lions

Kenny Stills , Texans

Mohamed Sanu, Patriots

Breshad Perriman,  Jets

Corey Davis , Titans

Willie Snead, Ravens 

John Ross, Bengals

Seth Roberts, Panthers

Cordarrelle Patterson, Bears

Chris Conley, Jaguars 

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven