Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Tuesday the team hasn’t “made a firm decision” about whether to give Allen Robinson the franchise tag, but said he reserves the right to do so even if it angers the star receiver.
“We have a ton of respect for Allen,” he said. “We have to do what’s best for the Bears, too.”
Asked if he could guarantee his return to the team — either via the franchise tag, transition tag or because of a long-term deal — Pace stopped just short of a promise.
“We love Allen Robinson. He’s a great player for us …” Pace said. “We want to keep our good players. And Allen is a good player for us.”
The Bears have until March 9 to give Robinson the franchise tag or transition tag. The franchise tag keeps them under contract for one more season at $18 million — which is, per league rules, 120% of his 2020 cap hit of $15 million. The transition tag would allow Robinson to receive contract offers from around the league, and for the Bears to match it.
Players typically despise the franchise tag, preferring to agree to long-term deals instead. Last month, Robinson was clear that he viewed the franchise tag as bad for players, saying he’d like to see the rule change during the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Were the Bears to give Robinson the franchise tag, they’d have until mid-July to negotiate a long-term deal.
Robinson has been a standout since the Bears signed him three years ago, totaling 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. In January, though, Robinson said that “everything is pretty much on the table” regarding his future.