Allen Robinson

Bears’ Allen Robinson Won’t Go On PUP

New Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson has not participated in most of the team’s offseason program as a result of last year’s torn ACL. However, coach Matt Nagy says he’ll be ready to roll as the team reconvenes and will not open camp on the PUP list (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune). 

The Bears signed Robinson to a $14MM/year contract this offseason and they are banking on him becoming their top offensive target this year. Robinson’s 2017 was a lost cause, but the Bears believe that he can get back to his 2015 form, a season in which he had 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even as he regressed in 2016, Robinson still finished out with 73 grabs for 883 yards and six TDs, so his floor is fairly high, provided that he can stay healthy.

Nagy also indicated that offensive lineman Kyle Long will be cleared for camp. Long missed a significant portion of last season and underwent shoulder, elbow, and neck procedures, but it sounds like he’s on track to play in Week 1.

The Bears went 5-11 last year and finished with the worst record in the NFC North. After retooling their offense and using a top ten pick on linebacker Roquan Smith, the Bears are feeling optimistic about their chances in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Rumors: Daniels, Robinson, Helfrich

Looking to sport at least two Day 1 starters from this 2018 draft class, the Bears also believe they acquired two first-round-caliber talents in April. Chicago brass placed a Round 1 grade on Iowa center James Daniels, whom the Bears selected at No. 39 overall.

We had him as a first-round player,” Bears director of player personnel Josh Lucas said during an episode of Meet the Rookies (via Bryan Perez of NBC Sports Chicago). “You never know. Every team’s going to have different flavors with interior linemen. It’s just one of those things that you hope he’s there. But based on our grades, based on where we saw the top 32 players in the draft, we definitely weren’t anticipating him being there.”

The Warren, Ohio, native served as the Hawkeyes’ starting center for the past two seasons before declaring for the draft after his junior year. However, the Bears plan to use him at left guard to replace Josh Sitton, per Perez. Cody Whitehair will make the transition back to center full-time. He served as Chicago’s snapper in 16 games as a rookie in 2016 but saw action at both center and guard in 2017.

Here’s the latest from the Windy City:

  • In recovering from the torn ACL that ended his 2017 season and his time with the Jaguars, Allen Robinson did not take part in most of the Bears’ offseason work. However, the former Pro Bowl target is expected to be full go by the time the Bears convene for camp July 19, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com reports. Robinson will be playing on a $14MM-per-year contract and will be essential to Chicago’s passing attack from Day 1, provided he can shake off the knee injury.
  • On the subject of Bears receivers, Taylor Gabriel, not Robinson, will be slotted at the position that Tyreek Hill plays in this scheme, Perez notes. Although Robinson delivered dominant work on deep balls with Blake Bortles in a breakout 2015 season, Gabriel profiles as the player who more closely resembles Hill on this new-look receiving corps. He’s twice averaged more than 16 yards per reception in a four-year career.
  • Chicago’s new offense won’t just be an NFC version of Andy Reid‘s. While Chiefs viewers who find their way to Bears games on Sundays will see familiar concepts, Matt Nagy‘s attack will also contain elements from OC Mark Helfrich‘s former Oregon offenses, Mitch Trubisky said (via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, on Twitter). The 2017 No. 2 overall pick said the Bears’ new offense is more complex than he’s accustomed to, so it will be interesting to see how the North Carolina product looks with a mostly new cast of pass-catchers. With the Chiefs using plenty of college concepts in recent years, and the Bears hiring a former college HC, Trubisky could be piloting one of the more unique offenses in the NFL this season.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Vikings

Allen Robinson narrowed his potential destinations to the Bears and Packers before ultimately deciding on Chicago, as the star wideout tells Mike Kaye of First Coast News. While a number of clubs — including the Redskins, Browns, Ravens, Panthers, and incumbent Jaguars — were linked to Robinson before free agency officially opened, Green Bay was never mentioned as a suitor. The revelation is interesting on a few different levels, but chief among them is that the Packers clearly feel a need to upgrade their receiving corps. So far this offseason, Green Bay cut ties with franchise icon Jordy Nelson, but hasn’t made any additions to its wideout depth chart. Robinson, 24, eventually landed a three-year, $42MM deal from the Bears.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Lions‘ decision to release Eric Ebron was strictly a financial call, general manager Bob Quinn told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Ebron had been scheduled to earn a base salary of $8.25MM in 2018, and that figure would have become fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year. Indeed, Ebron’s high salary also warded off any potential trade suitors, per Quinn, while Detroit never discussed an extension that would have reduced Ebron’s upcoming cap charge (Twitter link via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News). Ebron, a first-round pick in 2014, has subsequently inked a two-year, $13MM pact with the Colts.
  • Given that he’s currently in Ghana, Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has no immediate plans to sign his franchise tag, per Birkett (Twitter link). However, Ansah does eventually plan to ink the tender and has no intention of dragging out the process. When he does eventually sign, Ansah will earn a fully guaranteed $17.143MM base salary for the 2018 campaign, and will have until July to hammer out a long-term extension with Detroit. Ansah finished the 2017 season with 12 sacks, 44 total tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
  • The Vikings have indicated they’d like to re-sign cornerback Terence Newman, but it sound as though money will be the determining factor in any such agreement, according to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). While Newman will be 40 years old when the 2018 season gets underway, he was able to stay healthy for all 16 games last year. Newman, who ranked as the No. 66 CB among 119 qualifiers in 2017 (per Pro Football Focus), would reinforce a Minnesota secondary that also includes Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander.
  • Despite a previous report to the contrary, the Lions are not interested in free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, tweets Birkett. Detroit has already upgraded its defensive tackle rotation by signing Sylvester Williams and Ricky Jean-Francois, but Hankins isn’t in the team’s plans.

Contract Details/Restructures: 3/17/18

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts and restructures around the NFL:

New Contracts

  • Allen Robinson, WR (Bears): Three years, $42MM. $25.2MM guaranteed. $6MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Jets): One year, $6MM. $1MM guaranteed. $9MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $6.7MM. $3.1MM signing bonus. Performance incentives and escalators available (Twitter link via Jason Wolf of the Tennessean).

Restructures

  • Cardinals: Created $500K in 2018 cap space by converting S Antoine Bethea‘s roster bouns into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Vikings: Created $1.15MM in 2018 cap space by reducing RB Latavius Murray‘s base salary from $5.15MM to $3.65M; his roster bonus from $500K to $250K; and his incentives from $2.3MM to $1MM (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).

Bears Sign Allen Robinson

Early Tuesday morning, the Bears and wide receiver Allen Robinson agreed to a three-year, $42MM deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal was made official Wednesday night. Robinson was arguably this year’s top available wide receiver, edging Sammy Watkins.

The Bears lost a major target last offseason when Alshon Jeffery left in free agency to sign with the Eagles. Now, he provided young quarterback Mitch Trubisky with a true high-end option.

Robinson had spent his entire career with the Jaguars until today. After a breakout 2015 campaign that saw him haul in 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, Robinson took a step back in 2016 with “only” 73 catches for 883 yards and six scores. Then, he tore his ACL during his team’s Week 1 contest against the Texans last season. Robinson believes he’ll be back at full strength this year and if that’s the case, he’ll be terrorizing the NFC North.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury, Robinson was still able to garner $14MM annually, a figure which will place him inside the top-10 among wide receiver contracts. While it remains to be seen how Robinson’s new deal is structured — it’s possible the Bears can escape the pact after a year, depending on how bonuses are allocated — the 24-year-old was able to cash in even with a injury on his ledger.

Chicago, for its part, was in desperate need of wide receiver additions. Both Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright are unrestricted free agents, while Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy are restricted free agents. The Bears used original round tenders on both Meredith and Bellamy, meaning other clubs can potentially poach them without compensation heading to Chicago. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Kevin White has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL tenure and is currently recovering from injury.

The Jaguars reportedly considered deploying the franchise tag on Robinson, which would have parked him in Jacksonville at a one-year cost of roughly $16MM. Instead, the Jags let Robinson hit the open market, and now boast a wide receiver corps topped by Allen Hurns (who is a candidate for release), Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook. Fellow pass-catcher Marqise Lee is also an unrestricted free agent.

[RELATED: Bears Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Allen Robinson Confident He’ll Receive Multi-Year Deal

Despite missing the majority of the 2017 campaign due to injury, wideout Allen Robinson still believes he’ll get paid this offseason. Appearing on Mad Dog Sports Radio today, Robinson told the hosts that he doesn’t believe his ACL injury will keep him from earning a multi-year deal (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com).

Of course, it was likely that same ACL tear that kept the Jaguars from placing the franchise tag on the wideout. As Alper points out, some around the league were wondering if Robinson would have to settle for a one-year deal in order to reestablish his value in time for 2019 free agency. However, the wideout said conversations with his agent have led him to believe that he’ll definitely “get a multi-year deal done.”

While the wideout didn’t definitively name any landing spots, Alper points out that Robinson “reacted positively” when asked about the direction of the Bears and 49ers. The receiver also noted that he could end up back in Jacksonville.

The 2014 second-round pick has spent his entire career with the Jaguars, earning himself a Pro Bowl birth. Following a breakout 2015 campaign that saw him haul in 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, Robinson appeared to take a step back in 2016. The receiver finished that campaign with “only” 73 catches for 883 yards and six scores. He tore his ACL during his team’s Week 1 contest against the Texans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Allen Robinson’s Market

PFR’s No. 1 wide receiver available, Allen Robinson will be set to see a bevy of offers once the tampering window opens on Monday.

While Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports the Jaguars would love to retain the wideout they didn’t opt to use the franchise tag on, they will have immense competition. The Browns and Bears may be the two most aggressive pursuers, per La Canfora, but the Ravens and Panthers are also in the mix for the fifth-year receiver.

The Ravens missed out on a Jarvis Landry trade and may be set to revamp their receiving corps. The Panthers just traded for Torrey Smith. Neither of these teams can compete with the Bears or Browns in terms of cap space, with the Panthers sitting at less than $25MM and the Ravens at barely $4MM. JLC describes Baltimore and Carolina as expressing interest but maybe not on the level of Cleveland and Chicago’s.

Cleveland did add Landry and has outside receivers in Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. However, neither of those players were acquired by this regime and, with Gordon’s rampant off-field issues and Coleman’s injury struggles, it’s possible the front office wants more help in addition to Landry. The Bears have a bigger need at wideout after its previous corps struggled with injuries and production. The Browns hold more than $82MM in cap space, and the Bears are sitting on just more than $50MM.

Robinson doesn’t have the cleanest track record as far as staying on the field, but his dominant 2015 season (14 touchdowns, 1,400 air yards) understandably would have teams teeming with interest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Receiver Notes: Landry, Dez, A-Rob, Evans

No players have dominated the news more in the last two days than Jarvis Landry and Richard Sherman. On Friday, the Browns kicked off their trading spree by landing the Dolphins wideout in a deal for draft picks. Earlier in the day, Sherman was released from the Seahawks and then signed with the division-rival 49ers Saturday Night.

The two possibly could have been connected on the transaction wire earlier in the 2017 season if a blockbuster deal would have gone through. That’s according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who tweets that Seattle rejected a potential Landry-for-Sherman swap in 2017.

At the time of the proposed deal, presumably before the trade deadline, Sherman was healthy and the Seahawks were looking to advance to the postseason for the sixth consecutive. Trading away a key member of the secondary and an influential figure in the locker room doesn’t appear to make much sense.

Regardless, it is interesting both teams were looking to move on from their respective stars as early as October.

Here’s more receivers making news:

  • Before both of those deals went down, Mike Evans grabbed headlines by signing a five-year deal with the Buccaneers worth $82.5 MM. Breaking down the details, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry tweets the Bucs will $5 MM of salary cap space in 2018 and he now takes up $18.25 MM of cap room.
  • During a chat with the Dallas Morning News on Friday, Matt Mosley said his gut feeling is that Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be back in 2018. He said that could change if the team lands a receiver in the first round. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, among others, could be on the board when the Cowboys pick at No. 19.
  • Though they didn’t place the franchise tag on him, the Jaguars do in fact like Allen Robinson and would like to have him back at the right price, general manager Dave Caldwell told Pro Football Talk. “At some point in time, just like other free agents, we’ve walked away. We don’t want to do that with Allen because he’s ours. We’ll see. We have a lot of options on the table with that.”

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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Jaguars Won’t Tag WR Allen Robinson

The Jaguars have informed Allen Robinson that they will not use the franchise or transition tag on him, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). If no deal is reached between the wide receiver and the Jaguars in the coming days, Robinson will be able to speak with teams on March 12 and free to sign with any club starting on March 14. 

[RELATED: PFR’s Top Ranked Free Agent WRs]

In a weak class of free agent wide receivers, Robinson stands out as the best. WR-needy teams will be lining up for Robinson if he reaches the open market – including the Redskins – but they better bring their checkbooks. It stands to reason that Robinson will clear $10MM per year in average annual value and he may require a multi-year arrangement.

Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL. However, he remains a top flight talent. In 2015, Robinson pulled down 80 catches for 1,400 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdowns. Even in a down year in 2016, Robinson had 73 grabs for 883 yards and six scores.

The Jaguars nearly reached the Super Bowl without the services of Robinson, so they’d surely like to see what they’re capable of with him back in the lineup. If the Jags get into a bidding war for Robinson, they might not be able to hold on to him, given their limited cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.