Allen Robinson

Bears Want To Pair Kenny Golladay With Allen Robinson

It’s not an either-or, apparently. The Bears are pursuing Kenny Golladay with the intention of also keeping Allen Robinson, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune hears.

The Bears franchise tagged Robinson earlier this month, but some have speculated about a tag-and-trade scenario — or a rescinding of the tag — with Golladay taking his place. But, the Bears want both receivers. With Robinson locked in for $18MM this year, they’ll need some cooperation from the Lions’ free agent. That could be easier said than done. The Bears are sticking to a one-year offer for $11-$12MM. Golladay, meanwhile, wants roughly $18.5MM per year, according to PFT’s Mike Florio.

An $18.5MM AAV would still be less than top-of-the-market money for wide receivers. Currently, Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins leads the pack with $27.25MM per annum. After that, it’s Julio Jones ($22MM), Keenan Allen ($20.025MM), Amari Cooper ($20MM), and Michael Thomas ($19.25MM) rounding out the top five. Golladay’s asking price would position him sixth among all WRs, just ahead of Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18MM AAV.

Robinson, heading into his age-28 season, quickly signed his tender after news of Golladay’s Bears visit leaked out. Coming off his third 1,000-yard campaign, he probably didn’t envision a scenario in which both he and Golladay would wind up in Chicago, catching passes from new quarterback Andy Dalton,

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Allen Robinson Signs Franchise Tender

Allen Robinson is under contract again with the Bears. Chicago’s No. 1 wide receiver signed his $18MM franchise tender on Thursday night, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Bears applied a higher-value franchise tag on Robinson, due to his 2020 salary, at the deadline earlier this month. While Robinson has expressed frustration about his situation in Chicago, he is now locked in to that $18MM salary for the 2021 season.

The sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term extension, though they were considerably off on terms when they discussed a deal last year. Chicago now has a new starting quarterback, with Andy Dalton‘s deal official. The former Bengals and Cowboys quarterback said Thursday that the Bears’ pledge he will be their starter influenced him to sign with the team.

Kenny Golladay also visited the Bears on Wednesday night, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes this helped influence Robinson to sign his tag. Golladay perhaps could have been a Robinson replacement at a lower rate, and the Bears could have rescinded Robinson’s tag to send him to what has thus far been an underwhelming market for receivers.

Robinson is going into his age-28 season. He is coming off his third 1,000-yard campaign, recording two such seasons in Chicago and one in Jacksonville. The Jaguars did not use the tag on him in 2018, leading him to Chicago. The Bears gave Robinson a $14MM-per-year pact — a higher-value price at the time — despite his 2017 ACL tear. Robinson has since established himself as one of the NFL’s better receivers. It will be interesting to see if the Bears move forward on an extension or if this merely becomes a rental season.

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NFL Sets $182.5MM Salary Cap

The NFL salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). This marks a sizable (though expected) drop from last year’s $198.2MM limit.

Teams will not be allowed to borrow cap room from future years, per the CBA, so teams are basically stuck with the hard cap and difficult choices ahead. However, teams do have other ways to navigate the cap, including rollover from 2020, post-June 1 cuts, and contract restructuring.

With the new salary cap, the league has also determined the values of this year’s franchise tag tenders (Twitter link):

  • Quarterback $25.104MM
  • Running Back $8.655MM
  • Tight End $9.601MM
  • Offensive Lineman $13.754MM
  • Defensive End $16.069MM
  • Defensive Tackle $13.888M
  • Linebacker $14.791M
  • Cornerback $15.06MM
  • Kicker/Punter $4.482MM

Here’s the full rundown of this year’s franchise tags, including players on repeat tags who receive a 20% increase:

Bears Franchise Tag Allen Robinson

One of the big dominoes has now officially dropped. The Bears have placed the franchise tag on star receiver Allen Robinson, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

This news was expected, as Chicago has insisted all along they aren’t going to let Robinson walk. This is the second consecutive year the team has tagged Robinson. There’s been some strife between the franchise and the player, and although Robinson has said he isn’t opposed to continuing to play for the Bears, he’s also made it clear he didn’t want to be tagged. Robinson now joins Chris Godwin as top receivers getting tagged, while the Lions are letting Kenny Golladay hit the open market.

We heard a few weeks ago that the two sides hadn’t had any talks about an extension since way back in September, so they’re at a bit of a stalemate. Robinson, who is reportedly seeking top of the receiver market money on any long-term deal, was liking tweets encouraging him to skip town late in the year.

This doesn’t guarantee Robinson will be back in Chicago in 2021, as it’s been reported that a tag and trade scenario is a strong possibility. The Bears could realize they’re never going to pay Robinson what he wants on a massive contract and decide to get something out of him while they can. The tag is slated to pay him around $18MM if he plays under it this coming year.

The Penn State product has been incredibly consistent over the years considering the inconsistent quarterbacks he’s been paired with. He’s put up at least 1,147 yards and six touchdowns in each of the past two years.

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Bears GM: Robinson Franchise Tag On Table

Allen Robinson served as the Bears’ clear-cut top skill-position option over the past three seasons, and his second run at free agency may not come to pass.

Rumblings of the Bears being prepared to use their franchise tag on the No. 1 receiver surfaced last month, and GM Ryan Pace broached the subject Tuesday.

The franchise tag is an option for us,” Pace said, via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns (on Twitter). “It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to use that. But we want to keep our good players. And Allen is a good player for us.”

Fellow receiver tag candidates Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay would be straightforward tag recipients, but Robinson being on a veteran deal that counted $15MM against the Bears’ cap last season would drive up his tag price. The CBA mandates players be tagged at either the cap-determined figure for their respective position or 120% of their prior year’s salary, whichever number is greater. The latter scenario would apply to Robinson, whose tag price would be $18MM.

That will put the Bears to a decision, with the cap set to fall to perhaps by nearly $20MM from its $198MM place. Even after cutting Buster Skrine on Monday, the Bears have less than $1MM in projected cap space.

But Robinson, 27, has been far and away Chicago’s top receiving option since joining the team three years ago. His 1,250 receiving yards this past season, with lower-end QBs Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles throwing him passes, played a key role in Chicago booking a postseason berth.

Robinson’s negotiations with the Bears did not go smoothly last year, and while a tag would mean a nice one-year payday, the sides do not appear to have a smooth path to an extension by the July 15 deadline. But with Pace and Matt Nagy on hot seats, the Bears keeping Robinson certainly makes sense. The franchise will soon need to determine who will throw him passes, however.

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Allen Robinson: No “Viable Option” From Bears

Allen Robinson isn’t “opposed” to staying put, but there’s still work to be done. This week, the wide receiver said that he has yet to be given a “viable option” from the Bears. 

[RELATED: Bears Did Not Make Offer For Wentz]

My personal opinion, if something could possibly work? Yes,” Robinson said (via Tyler Dunne of Go Long). “I’m not opposed to being back in Chicago by any means. I’ve even expressed that over the last couple of years — wanting to be the all-time leading receiver in Chicago which, I believe, I’m under 2,000 yards away from that. With all that being said, unfortunately we’ve come to what seems to be a fork in the road. But not even a fork. We haven’t even been given a viable option to be able to do those things that we want to do without sacrificing a ridiculous amount pretty much for the rest of my career.

One option for the Bears would be to use the franchise tag on Robinson, but that wouldn’t be especially “viable” for either party. Robinson doesn’t want to get tagged, and he’s been vocal about it. Meanwhile, the Bears would have a tough time fitting Robinson into the budget at the WR 1-5 average. The Bears are currently projected to be $10MM over the 2021 cap, so key players would need to be cut in order to balance the books.

On the flipside, head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace could be fighting for their jobs this year. Even if it’s not necessarily a good idea for the long term, the Bears could be inclined to pay Robinson what he wants. Robinson says he’s the market’s top wide receiver, which would put him in $20MM/year territory.

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Bears Notes: Desai, Robinson, Massie, Skrine

Earlier this week, Sean Desai met with the media for the first time since being promoted to the role of defensive coordinator. While the 37-year-old will take over a defense that has ranked as a top-10 DVOA unit in each of the past three seasons, they’ve also seen some regression since peaking in 2018. However, Desai doesn’t believe the defensive needs a significant overhaul.

“I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune up,” Desai said (via the team’s website). “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here.”

“There was some regression, and we’re going to overcome that,” Desai added. “But we’re going to do it in a positive way and we’re going to do it where the players are going to be able to shine through that defense. So I think we’ll build some depth and we’ll continue with our tough, physical mindset of play and do that over a 16- to 20-week season.”

Some more notes out of Chicago…

  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that the Bears are “prepared” to tag wideout Allen Robinson with the hope of eventually signing him to a long-term deal. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that it will be difficult to fit a franchised Robinson into a reduced 2021 cap, but the writer also admits that replacing Robinson would be a more daunting task.
  • Speaking of the cap, Biggs provided some cost-cutting options for the Bears. The team could move on from right tackle Bobby Massie, although that would open a spot on the offensive line. Cornerback Buster Skrine could also lose his roster spot, especially since he has a $500K roster bonus due in March. Finally, Biggs also whether the front office will be receptive to paying tight end Jimmy Graham $7MM this season.
  • As for restructured contracts, Biggs points to pass rusher Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson, and he notes that the team could also extend cornerback Kyle Fuller. Alternatively, the team could look to retain free agents like Cairo Santos and Cordarrelle Patterson on low-money pacts.
  • Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic passed along a few Bears players who have increased their 2021 salaries via proven performance escalators (Twitter links): defensive end Bilal Nichols (from $920K to $2.183MM) and guard James Daniels ($1.437MM to $2.183MM),. Their new salaries are contingent on the final 2021 cap number.

Latest On Bears, Allen Robinson

When the Bears and Allen Robinson resumed extension talks back in September, there was some optimism that the two sides could work out their differences and keep Robinson around long-term. That optimism was short-lived, as the relationship quickly devolved and he eventually started liking tweets encouraging him to skip town.

The last we heard about a month ago, the team was bracing for the star receiver to leave in free agency. However, it appears GM Ryan Pace might not let him walk out the door so easily. Pace recently talked about the franchise tag being a tool at the team’s disposal this offseason, and Adam Jahns of The Athletic thinks that was to send a message to Robinson and his reps that the team is going to play hardball.

Robinson has said recently he’s open to returning to Chicago, but doesn’t want to play under the tag. It seems the Bears are reluctant to pay his asking price, which is rumored to be top of the receiver market money. Meanwhile, the two sides haven’t had any further talks about an extension since those discussions way back in September, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports, so a long-term deal certainly doesn’t seem imminent.

Interestingly, Pelissero floated a potential tag and trade scenario as a viable option. “That would certainly seem to bring the (franchise) tag into play,” Pelissero said. “Whether it is the Bears to try to do an extension, whether it is setting up Robinson to play on the tag, or maybe even a tag-and-trade scenario.”

Robinson has managed to produce consistently despite playing with bottom-tier quarterbacks his entire career, and is still only 27, so if the Bears do dangle him in trade talks there will likely be no shortage of suitors. He had 102 catches for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns this past season, even as Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles shuffled back and forth ineffectively.

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Latest On Bears, Allen Robinson

Allen Robinson has served as Chicago’s clear-cut No. 1 chain-mover since the 2018 season, but the Pro Bowl wideout is less than two months from free agency. And the Bears may need to find a new No. 1 pass catcher.

The Bears are bracing for the possibility Robinson departs in free agency, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com notes, adding that the team appears content to let the seven-year veteran test the market instead of forking over top-five receiver money to keep him.

That strategy may be fine for Robinson, who sounds eager to test free agency again. While Robinson said recently he was open to returning to the Bears, he reflected on the parties’ failed extension talks.

I personally feel like we had an opportunity to be able to get something done over the past 365 days,” Robinson said, via Dickerson (on Twitter).

The Bears would have the franchise tag as an option with Robinson, but they are — prior to any roster cuts — sitting at $10MM over the projected 2021 cap. This is without Mitchell Trubisky factoring into Chicago’s 2021 cap sheet, though the polarizing quarterback is not a lock to be back next season. It will be interesting, in a year in which Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace will likely be on hot seats, if the Bears will be willing to let Robinson walk.

A former Jaguars third-round pick, Robinson agreed to a three-year, $42MM deal with the Bears in 2018. But the sides were unable to reach an extension agreement last year. Robinson envisions himself as the market’s top wide receiver, which would put him — even in a year in which the salary cap is expected to decline for only the second time ever — in the $20MM-per-year conversation.

Free agency’s WR1 will be a tough conversation this year. As of late January, young standouts Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Corey Davis are set for free agency. Barring extensions, veterans T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Antonio Brown would stand to join them. Robinson’s previous three-year Bears deal puts him in between these groups, age-wise, at 27.

Despite playing for a team with one of the league’s shakiest quarterback situations, Robinson posted back-to-back 1,100-plus-yard seasons over the past two years. The Bears have Anthony Miller under contract for another season and drafted Darnell Mooney in 2020. But a Robinson exit would leave the team with a major need on offense.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Bears WR Allen Robinson

It’s safe to say that Allen Robinson isn’t a happy camper. Over the weekend, the Bears wide receiver liked a series of tweets from fans who encouraged him to skip town (Twitter link via Dov Kleiman). He’ll have the opportunity to leave Chicago in the spring when his contract expires, but it’s not a given that the market will meet his expectations. 

Earlier this year, we heard that Robinson saw himself as the top wide receiver in this year’s free agent class. That would mean a deal of at least $20MM per year, putting him in the neighborhood of Michael Thomas and Julio Jones who have much stronger resumes. Thomas’ camp would probably point to Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper — receivers who did not have the same credentials as Thomas or Jones, but still topped $20MM/year.

The Bears weren’t willing to go there when the two sides last spoke, but they also kept Robinson past the early November trade deadline. Since then, they’ve watched their playoff hopes dwindle. The Bears, riding a five-game losing streak, may wind up losing their star receiver for nothing but a compensatory pick.

The Bears’ quarterback situation hasn’t provided Robinson with the ideal platform, but he’s still been fairly productive from an individual standpoint. Last year, Robinson managed a solid 98 grabs for 1,147 yards — his best showing since his 2015 coming out party with the Jaguars. Through eleven games this year, he has a stat line of 71/829/5, bolstered by his latest outing against the Packers. Robinson’s 11.7 yards per catch average over the last two years doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but it’s evident that the talent is there, and Robinson has been largely healthy over that stretch.

But, even with the most favorable view possible, Robinson probably won’t be the kingpin of this WR class. Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay are also on track to hit the open market — ditto for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who could probably be had for less than Robinson.

Given the strength of the WR class and uncertainty of the 2021 salary cap, it might behoove Robinson to smooth things out with the Bears. Or, at minimum, pretend to smooth out with the Bears, in order to fetch the best possible deal. If Robinson can keep the incumbent Bears involved, he could land somewhere near the $18MM/year mark like Tyreek Hill and Odell Beckham Jr. If he can’t, he might be looking at ~$16MM/year offers, similar to Cooper Kupp‘s recent Rams extension.

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