Despite wide receiver Allen Robinson’s frustration with his contract situation as he plays on the franchise tag, a source said he plans to participate in mandatory minicamp this week after skipping the first two weeks of organized team activities.
How much on-field work Robinson will do when the Bears resume practice Tuesday for three days isn’t known, but his appearance likely signals he won’t hold out from training camp, either.
Having their best offensive player — by far — on hand as veteran quarterback Andy Dalton takes over the starting job and first-round pick Justin Fields tries to find his footing will be beneficial.
The Bears have no other receiver close to Robinson’s status. Anthony Miller has been a disappointment, and second-year player Darnell Mooney is promising but unproven. The Bears also added free agents Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin, but it’s too early to know what to expect from them.
The Bears certainly are glad to have Robinson in attendance, but they don’t seem to value his contributions as much as he would like. There has been no progress toward a long-term extension. The sides have until July 15 to agree to a deal or Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent again in March.
This would be an ideal time to secure him as part of the franchise’s future. Robinson has three 1,000-yard seasons, is the ultimate professional and, at 27, is in the prime of his career.
Since his arrival in 2018, he has led the team with 255 receptions, 3,151 yards and 17 touchdown catches. He has talked openly about wanting a long-term contract with the Bears since late in the 2019 season, saying he “definitely would foresee spending many more years here,” but instead is playing on a one-year, $17.9 million deal.
Robinson signed the tag and said in April that he was “in a pretty good place” about his situation heading toward the season.
“Fortunately, from my position — contract or no contract — I’m in position to do things that no receiver has done throughout the history of the Chicago Bears,” he said. “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.”
He added, “I’m having a pretty good mindset going into it. 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.”
It’s common for players to skip voluntary OTAs and even minicamp and the start of training camp during contract conflicts. Teams can fine players for missing any mandatory work.
It was unclear whether Robinson’s absence the last two weeks was contract-related or if he simply declined to attend practices that were optional anyway. Coach Matt Nagy said last week that Robinson had been logging on for meetings on Zoom, which also were voluntary. The majority of the Bears’ starting defense, for example, did not attend OTAs in person.
During the last two seasons, when the Bears ranked 26th in scoring, 29th in yards and 24th in passer rating, Robinson was often the only thing about the offense that worked. He was fourth in the NFL in yardage (2,397) and catches (200) and led the team with 13 touchdowns despite playing with Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles and Chase Daniel as his quarterbacks.
“I’ve had a million conversations with A-Rob, and he’s well aware of what he means to all of us,” Nagy said before the team used the franchise tag on him. “This is just the business side, and we’re not the only team that’s dealing with this.”
The Bears had only two 100-yard receiving games by someone other than Robinson the last two seasons, both by Miller.
NOTE: The Bears took a look at Brandon Marshall — the veteran linebacker, not the former firebrand Bears receiver — at a workout Monday at Halas Hall, sources confirmed. A Super Bowl champion with the Broncos, Marshall, who played alongside Danny Trevathan in Denver, hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2018. He spent 2019 with the Raiders but didn’t enter a game.