2021 Free Agency: Could Allen Robinson Return to the Jaguars?

Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson is set to become a free agent soon. Could he return to the team that drafted him originally? It's a possibility. Here's what he'd bring (back) to the club.
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What if Allen Robinson had never left the Jacksonville Jaguars?

What if Allen Robinson could rejoin the Jacksonville Jaguars?

The first question has hung around the franchise for the past three years as the former second-round pick for the Jags went on to become one of the top receivers in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. Now, with Robinson set to become a free agent yet again this offseason, the second question has dared to be asked.

So how feasible is the signing? And what would the former Jaguar receiver be bringing back to Jacksonville?

Overview

Robinson was in the Top 8 of league receivers in targets (3rd-150), receptions (4th-102), and receiving yards (8th-1,250). He finished with six receiving touchdowns and provided a 90.1 passer rating when targeted by the carousel of Bears quarterbacks. While Robinson has been one of the most targeted—and therefore productive—receivers in the NFL during his time in Chicago, it was his second year with Jacksonville that indicated just how special Allen Robinson could be as a pro.

In 2015, Robinson finished with 1,400 yards, 4.4 yards per reception, 343 yards after the catch, 14 touchdowns, and a passer rating when targeted of 105.4, all career-bests (when playing at least two games). An ACL injury after his first catch of the season kept Robinson sidelined for the 2017 AFC Championship game run, however. 

What Allen Robinson Does Well

It’d be taboo to just say “everything” but it wouldn’t be too far off from what Robinson brings to the field. The Bears used him in 2020 in the high outside “X-receiver” spot, in the slot, and off the line in a bunch. From each role, he’s exhibited a vast route tree with the capability to lose receivers with ease. His slide on comeback routes is elite and his vertical allows the 6-2 receiver to high point a ball.

Even as a dynamic route runner, Robinson also relies on good old-fashioned technique to win his snaps. In a game against the Indianapolis Colts last season, Bears quarterback Nick Foles went to Robinson three straight times on a two-minute touchdown drive.

The first saw Foles go to his left, targeting Robinson who was in double coverage. The receiver worked his way off one defender and out-manned the other to make the contested catch with the sideline at his back.

The next play saw Robinson cut across the middle of the field, having shaken his defensive back to work in to open territory. After making the open field grab, he turned upfield and wormed under a quartet of Colts to set the Bears up in scoring position.

On the final play, Foles stayed with Robinson, letting the receiver get behind his defender and high pointing the ball in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

There are few ways to defend a weapon that versatile.

Verdict

While the Jaguars have talent in the receiver unit, it’s top-heavy and specific. Bringing in (read: bringing back) a receiver like Robinson would allow the Jaguars receiver depth to be more balanced and even

As is the case with most every position of need this offseason, the Jaguars have the cap space to make things happen. Signing Robinson would take a chunk—his three-year deal with the Bears was worth $42 million—but it’s doable. However, Chicago could try to hold on to the talented receiver.

Robinson recently revealed to SiriusXM NFL that he and the team had not spoken about a future deal since September. But on Tuesday, Chicago General Manager Ryan Pace told reporters they have the franchise tag at their disposal.

“We wanna keep our good players, and Allen [Robinson] is a good player for us,” Pace said by way of explanation.

Robinson, for his part, has made it clear playing on the franchise tag is not his choice. Speaking with Cris Collinsworth on his podcast, the same day Pace said the franchise tag was an option, Robinson said, “That’s a tough situation man, because, for myself, I believe I’m deserving of a long-term deal.

“When you talk about a one-year deal, or whatever the case might be, something that you’re kind of forced into— as a player, when you’re coming off of 3,000 yards in three seasons, you help take a team to the playoffs two out of three years, you do feel deserving of the long-term, no matter where that will be. I think that’s kind of what makes the franchise tag so tough. It’s not the fact that I think I could get a long-term deal with probably 31 other teams, you know?... As a player, that should all be up to your discretion.”

The Bears have until March 9 to utilize the franchise tag. Free agency begins March 17. 

Would Robinson’s discretion bring him back to the team that drafted him originally? It’s possible…and definitely a question worth asking. 

For the other free agent breakdowns conducted so far, click below.