The best move for the Bears offense? Extend Allen Robinson’s contract
Robinson is entering the final year of a three-year, $42 million contract he signed coming off a torn ACL. He’s set to receive a $3 million roster bonus on Friday and make $10.9 million in base salary this upcoming season.
Maybe it was a coincidence. It probably wasn’t, though.
At 10:06 p.m. Monday night, Bears receiver Allen Robinson posted a GIF from his Twitter account of Will Smith sitting on the set of the “The Tonight Show” biting his fingernails nervously before clapping violently with a smile on his face.
Robinson had reason to cheer: 11 minutes earlier, ESPN reported that receiver Amari Cooper had agreed to return to the Cowboys on a five-year, $100 million contract with $60 million guaranteed.
It was the richest contract for a receiver in NFL history, surpassing the $96.25 million deal the Saints gave Michael Thomas in July.
Cooper’s deal set the market for receivers. That’s a big deal for Robinson, who is up for an extension soon.
Robinson is entering the final year of a three-year, $42 million contract he signed after coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He’s set to receive a $3 million roster bonus Friday and make $10.9 million in base salary this upcoming season.
Robinson should get an extension by training camp — or perhaps by April 1. Both sides would benefit from an extension, perhaps before the free-agent frenzy is complete.
Doing so could lower his cap hit from $15 million — provided the Bears are creative — to give the team more money to spend during free agency. It would avoid a season-long staring contest over the franchise tag next year, something that neither side wants.
An extension would vault Robinson into the echelon of receivers more befitting his second season with the Bears. His 98 catches last year rank fifth-most in franchise history, his 1,147 yards eighth-most. Despite playing six NFL seasons, Robinson is only 26.
An extension will be costly. Robinson might not get $60 million guaranteed like Cooper, but $50 million is possible.
Still, it would be the best move the Bears can make for their offense in the offseason. It would be, to date, the only move guaranteed to improve coach Matt Nagy’s scheme in the short and long terms.
The Bears’ top priority this month is to fix their offense. They haven’t unequivocally done so — at least yet. The team’s two major additions are far from airtight answers at their two biggest positions of need.
Neither quarterback Nick Foles nor tight end Jimmy Graham is expected to dominate in 2020. Despite being under contract, there’s no guarantee either will be on the Bears’ roster in 2021.
Foles is perhaps the greatest pinch hitter in the history of quarterbacks, marching the Eagles to a Super Bowl title three years ago. He’s one of the streakiest passers in the league, too. At the end of the 2018 season, Foles tied an NFL record with 25 consecutive completions.
But he hasn’t proved that he can succeed during the course of a full season. He hasn’t started five regular-season games since 2015. In eight NFL seasons, he has started more than 10 games only once.
Graham is on the back end of his career. His yards per game over the last three seasons have been 32.5, 39.8 and 27.9. By comparison, receiver Taylor Gabriel, whom the Bears cut last month as a cap casualty, averaged 39.2 yards last season.
The Bears are betting that Foles and Graham can succeed in the right situation.
The fastest way to create one is to give Robinson an extension.
Cue the Will Smith clip.