It is difficult to understand what the endgame is for the Chicago Bears. From a logical point of view, keeping Allen Robinson is a no brainer. He’s been their best offensive weapon for three years now. He is already within striking distance of the team’s all-time receiving record. On top of that, they have a young quarterback coming in with Justin Fields. Wouldn’t it make perfect sense to ensure he has a dependable target like Robinson for years to come?
Apparently not. After months of zero activity, the deadline for discussing an extension passed on July 15th. Robinson will play 2021 on the franchise tag. For most, it is pretty clear what happens now. The receiver will play out the season in Chicago and become a free agent in 2022. Hopes of him staying in a Bears uniform are all but dead at this point. Something many fans still can’t accept.
So that begs the question. Why?
It comes down to the money. That much is obvious. Word is Robinson wants somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million per year. That would rank him among the top 5 in the NFL. GM Ryan Pace reportedly wasn’t willing to go higher than $16 million. At first glance, that seems like such a lowball offer considering how effective the receiver was. Seth Walder of ESPN provided some interesting data that might help explain some of their thinking.
“Over the past two seasons, only DeVante Parker averaged less separation than Allen Robinson II among receivers with at least 100 receptions in the two-year span. But here’s the thing: Robinson makes it work. His contested catch ability (plus-6% completion percentage over expectation over the past two years) is reliable, and that should help Fields.”
His data is corroborated by Next Gen Stats from NFL.com. According to them, Robinson had an average of 2.3 yards of separation in 2020. For a comparison? That is the same as Darius Slayton and D.J. Chark. Two receivers who would never be mistaken as top 5 guys in the league. It is by far the lowest number of anybody with 100 or more receptions last season. For all the good things Robinson does, the Bears may simply view him as a really good receiver. Not a great one.
This is why Allen Robinson is prepared to bet on himself
He believes another team will give him the money he thinks he’s worth. Presuming he has a year similar to last season? He is probably right. The Bears seem content to let him go get it. When looking at their recent shift at the wide receiver position? It becomes a bit easier to understand why. Just look at some of their additions since last year.
- Darnell Mooney
- Marquise Goodwin
- Damiere Byrd
All players with one thing in common. Speed. It is clear Matt Nagy wants to make the offense more explosive. While keeping Allen Robinson is absolutely something he’d prefer, the Bears aren’t going to break the bank in order to do so. They feel they can find capable enough weapons elsewhere.
Could that come back to haunt them?
Certainly. It has before. Their unwillingness to pay Alshon Jeffery hurt pretty bad in 2017. However, they did sign Robinson the next season. One other factor? If Fields ends up playing this year and plays well, then Chicago could end up being a hot destination for receivers in free agency next spring. So while it’s a gamble to let him walk, it isn’t a completely foolish one.