The Bears used the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson on Tuesday, guaranteeing themselves the option to keep him on the roster next season, a source said.
While it secures their prerogative to retain him, it doesn’t finalize his status with the team. The only concrete consequence of this move is that it prevents Robinson from becoming an unrestricted free agent and creating a bidding war.
That would likely be a profitable scenario for Robinson coming off a season of 102 catches, 1,250 yards and six touchdowns at age 27. Spotrac estimated his market value at a four-year, $80.2 million contract based on his statistics and recent contracts for wide receivers of his caliber.
Robinson has been adamantly against the team using the franchise tag — essentially a one-year, $18 million contract instead of the long-term extension with a salary of $20 million or more that he wanted — and could counter by refusing to sign it, demanding a trade and/or holding out from training camp.
On the flip side, he and the Bears would still be able to work out an extension and the team could rescind the franchise tag.
Without Robinson, the Bears would have a glaring hole in their depth chart. Their next best receivers are Anthony Miller, who has been problematic throughout his three seasons with the Bears, and Darnell Mooney. Mooney had a promising rookie season, but no one would peg him as a No. 1 receiver at this point.