‘Everything’s on the table’ as free-agent WR Allen Robinson weighs leaving Bears
He once said he hoped to stick around long enough to be one of the franchise’s all-time greats. Now, after a year of fruitless contract negotiations, Robinson is fully prepared to leave in free agency.
The Bears’ best offensive player, who has expressed his desire to stay with the organization long enough to become one of its all-time greats, has accepted the possibility that the team doesn’t respect him enough to pay him what he’s worth.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson, the only consistently good thing about the Bears’ offense, is prepared to find a new home as an unrestricted free agent in March.
“Right now, everything is pretty much on the table,” Robinson said Monday. “Over the last three years, since I stepped foot in Chicago, I’ve [had] great respect for the organization, for the McCaskey family. Definitely thankful for them. . . . So I’ve created a lot of relationships and everything like that here, but right now, everything is on the table.”
As it should be. No one should be surprised that Robinson is ready to look elsewhere after the way things have gone during the last year.
He provided the Bears with 2,397 yards on 200 receptions the last two seasons, fourth in the NFL in both categories during that span despite playing primarily with Mitch Trubisky (86.8 passer rating) and Nick Foles (80.8). Imagine what he could do with better quarterbacks.
Robinson probably does so all the time, especially after negotiations with the Bears for a contract extension repeatedly crashed. He watched other star receivers such as Keenan Allen (four years, $80 million), Julio Jones (three years, $66 million) and DeAndre Hopkins (two years, $54 million) sign massive extensions and wanted one of his own.
When he sought an average annual salary of $20 million or more, a source said, the Bears rebuffed him. That’s when Robinson cleared his social media of Bears logos in September and, a source said, floated the idea of a trade.
Aside from that, Robinson has shown exceptional self-control, maintained a diplomatic tone and produced the second-best season of his career with 102 catches for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. But it’s clear he and the Bears haven’t reconciled.
“We had an opportunity to get something done over the last 365 days,” he said.
It’s inconceivable that the Bears wouldn’t do what it takes to keep an unquestionable No. 1 wide receiver who, at 27, is still in his prime. And not only has Robinson produced on the field, but he has been an ideal player in every other facet. Bears coaches, including Matt Nagy, regularly point to him as the model of professionalism.
Using the franchise tag on Robinson is an option for the Bears, and OverTheCap projects that price to be at least $18 million, but that would only prolong this contentious situation. Players resent when teams do that.
“I think everybody knows a little bit of how I feel about that,” Robinson said.
Translation: He’ll be very unhappy.
“Um,” he said with a laugh. “I plead the fifth on that.”
Robinson never wanted it to come to this. He told the Chicago Sun-Times near the end of the 2019 season that he dreamed of breaking all the franchise receiving records. Of seeking a contract extension, he said, “I definitely would foresee spending many more years here.”
Between Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, the Bears have continued to tell Robinson what he wants to hear. Heading into the season, when Robinson’s lack of a contract extension began to bubble up as a major -issue, Nagy said, “When you produce the way that he produces and are the type of person he is, those are the type of people that you want for a while.”
That’s nice, but Robinson, strangely enough, seems more interested in money than compliments at the moment.
And someone surely will give him that money if he hits the open market. The Bears had better hope it’s not the Packers or another opponent that would afford Robinson the opportunity to show them — politely and professionally, of course, as is his way — how badly they undervalued him.