The Chicago Bears face a difficult situation. Their salary cap is a problem. They’re a few million dollars over the projected NFL limit for 2021. This means GM Ryan Pace has work to do just to get the team back in the black. Never mind finding enough space to conduct typical offseason business. Nothing is more important short of the quarterback search than figuring out how to keep Allen Robinson.
It’s been months since it became public that the organization and their star wide receiver ceased discussions on a long-term contract extension. Robinson has made it consistently clear during that time that he isn’t the problem. It is the Bears who haven’t engaged in talks. They haven’t been willing to offer what he considers to be “fair market value.” For their part, it seems uncertainty over the 2021 cap has tied their hands.
Thus the deadlock continues. With time running out too.
Less than a month remains until the start of the new league year on March 17th. At that point, Robinson will become a free agent. The Bears can’t let that happen. Not given how much the man means to their offense. This is why most assume they will utilize the franchise tag, securing him to a one-year deal at around $18 million. A window that opens today.
That being said, there might be a way to still get the 27-year old back to the negotiating table. A way to send him a message that the Bears are dead serious about getting a long-term deal done. To say they want to make him a key part of their future. There’s only one issue. It’s a little bit crazy.
They don’t tag him at all.
Not tagging Allen Robinson would send a message
Obviously, fans would take it the wrong way. They’d assume the team is making the egregious decision to let the receiver walk in free agency. However, behind closed doors, the Bears could make it clear to Robinson they’re not tagging him because they’re serious about working out an extension. They want him there long-term if only he’ll work with them on a deal that makes sense for both sides.
Allen Robinson hasn’t exactly hidden his feelings about the franchise tag. He tried to convince several players to vote on getting it removed from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement without success. He views it as an unfair deal to players. A way to rob them of long-term security. What happens if they get injured? Then their hopes of getting a contract they worked so hard to earn is gone.
So how big of a message would it be if the Bears elected not to use it?
They could tell Robinson that they are acquiescing to his wishes to not use the tag. In return the hope would be he softens his stance enough to where an extension can be worked out both sides would be happy with. Is it risky? Without question. The gambit could easily backfire with the receiver maintaining his stance and walking in free agency.
At the same time, it doesn’t seem like the Bears are going to get much cooperation out of him if they were to tag him either. Short of meeting his asking price, something they seem unwilling or unable to do, this might be the one way they can get his attention.