Days before the window opens for the Bears to give Allen Robinson the franchise tag, the Bears receiver has been clear what he thinks of it.
Speaking on the Clubhouse app Thursday night, Robinson said he wants the franchise tag to go away when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2030, framing it as a bad deal for players. Robinson, who wants to be an agent after he retires, said it would “take a village” of players to speak out against the tag to cause any real change.
Teams can tag their players starting Tuesday and until March 9. Doing so keeps them under contract for one more season at a price based on the top five salaries at their position over the previous five seasons. If tagged, Robinson would make $18 million over one year, as league rules also require the Bears to pay him 120% of his 2020 cap hit of $15 million.
Players almost universally despise the notion of playing on a one-year franchise tag when the alternative is negotiating a long-term contract. Teams often tag players as a precursor to reaching a long-term agreement by mid-July, but the Bears and Robinson’s agent have talked about a new deal for over a year without an agreement.
Players have little recourse when they’re tagged other than refusing to sign it or show up for the offseason program — or, in only the most extreme cases, suit up during the season. This year’s offseason program could once again be virtual because of the coronavirus, though, and could lessen the impact of a standoff.
The Bears would be wise to keep Robinson, given his outstanding production in three seasons with the team. He has 255 catches on 399 targets for 3,151 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Chargers receiver Keenan Allen signed an extension at the start of the season worth $80 million over four years that seemed to be a good starting point for Robinson’s contract. Robinson could prefer a shorter deal at a similar average annual value.
With contract talks stalled in September, Robinson asked the Bears about a trade but stopped short of demanding one. The next day, he said he’d finish the season with the team and that “my heart and spirit has never wavered” when it comes to wanting to be one of the best receivers ever. He’s more than halfway to Johnny Morris’ franchise record of 5,059 yards.
In January, Robinson said that “everything is pretty much on the table” regarding his future.
Billing it as a discussion about the franchise tag, Robinson spoke using the app Thursday alongside his agent, Brandon Parker. Former Bears safety Adrian Amos joined briefly, and the two talked about how quick the pace of free agency feels. Bears left tackle Charles Leno called in to praise Robinson’s unselfishness as a teammate. Andrew Brandt, a sports executive, professor and media personality, explained the details of the cap to listeners, who later asked questions. Robinson praised the city of Chicago and his time with the team thus far. When asked about his fit on other teams, Robinson demurred.