Wide receiver Allen Robinson would not commit to participating in the voluntary portion of the Bears’ offseason program that begins in earnest May 17 with on-field drills at Halas Hall. But Robinson indicated he ultimately will be the good soldier the Bears are counting on him to be despite his unhappiness with his contract status.
General manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy have not been concerned that the player who best exemplifies the revered culture at Halas Hall is miffed about his contract — Robinson was given the franchise tag for the 2021 season when he was expecting to be rewarded with a long-term contract after another productive season in 2020.
Robinson did not want to delve into his contract status in detail when he met with reporters after receiving the Brian Piccolo Award on Tuesday. The ceremony itself illustrated the uneasy balance for Robinson — his fondness for the Bears’ organization vs. his unhappiness with his contract.
“I have a ton of respect for the McCaskey family, for the Bears’ organization and also for the Piccolo family,” he said in regard to the award.
But when asked about attending the offseason program, he demurred.
“I’m not really going to get into that,” Robinson said. “My approach to the season for myself and for what I want to accomplish as a player [has] never changed. I found a great routine from the time the season ended until Week 1, and that has never changed.”
Robinson participated in the offseason program in 2018 and 2019 (it was exclusively virtual in 2020). Even if he does not participate in this year’s program — the NFLPA-sponsored boycott of the voluntary program because of concerns about coronavirus protocols also factors in — Robinson likely will be good to go for the mandatory minicamp in June and training camp in July.
“Over the past six weeks, I had great training blocks with my trainer,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘I’m just trying to build upon that every day. Trying to get better. Trying to focus on other things that I wasn’t able to accomplish [last season] and keep trying to perfect my craft in order to get better.
“Fortunately — contract or no contract — I’m in position to do things that no receiver has done throughout the history of the Chicago Bears. Being one of the first franchises and being around for a long time, there are certain things out there to be had. And for that, I’m very excited.”
Robinson had 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns last season. In three seasons with the Bears, he is 11th on the franchise list for receptions (260) and 15th in receiving yards (3,151). He could become the first receiver in franchise history with three 1,000-yard seasons in 2021.
Though he expressed his disdain for the franchise tag, Robinson signed the contract offer — which will pay him $18 million in 2021 — rather than hold out and try to force a trade. He has until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal. And if that does not happen, Robinson still figures to be on board as a team leader on and off the field in 2021. That’s consistent with his nature.
“I’m having a pretty good mindset going into it,” he said. “I’m not too focused on anything else other than putting myself in the best position to have a successful year and do what I need to do for this offense and for my teammates. I’m in a good place.”