We’ve heard rumors about a potential Allen Robinson trade over the past several weeks. None of that was a real possibility until the Chicago Bears star wide receiver signed the franchise tag his organization placed on him.
After being handed the tag earlier in March, reports surfaced that he was in no hurry to sign on the dotted line — guaranteeing the Pro Bowler a whopping $17.88 million in 2021.
Shockingly, Robinson opted to sign said tag on Thursday. This comes the same day that Chicago released All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller and granted stud defensive lineman Akiem Hicks permission to seek a trade. It also comes one day after the Bears officially signed quarterback Andy Dalton to replace Mitchell Trubisky under center.
There’s a pretty big backdrop to all of this. Allen Robinson is not happy with the Bears. It led to rumors of a potential trade ahead of last season’s deadline. Part of the reason Robinson isn’t happy in Chicago has been disastrous quarterback play in recent seasons. Dalton might be a solid veteran option, but he’s not the elite talent the Bears were said to be targeting in Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson.
So, why did Allen Robinson sign franchise tag tender?
It can’t be a coincidence that Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy met with free-agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay on Wednesday.
For Chicago, it’s an either/or proposition. The team does not have room under the 2021 NFL salary cap to keep Robinson on his tender and sign Golladay.
This likely means that Robinson saw the possibility that Chicago would rescind the franchise tag. By signing it, he eliminated this possibility. Given the less-than-stellar cap situations multiple teams are in and the cash that has been thrown around during the first few days of NFL free agency, there’s no reason to believe Robinson would earn north of $17 million annually on a long-term contract if the Bears had rescinded said tag.
It’s pretty much a cat-and-mouse game between the two sides. Allen Robinson does not want to play for Chicago, either on the franchise tag or a long-term deal. Meanwhile, the Bears’ brass is likely attempting to bluff its way into forcing Robinson back next season. That’s highly unlikely to happen.
Will an Allen Robinson trade happen?
Previously in the NFL offseason, reports surfaced that the Bears were considering placing the above-mentioned tag on Robinson with the sole purpose of trading him. Given that Chicago has been in cost-cutting mode all offseason and with Robinson having signed the tender, this now becomes increasingly likely.
We’re talking about a 27-year-old wide receiver who has caught a combined 200 passes for 2,397 yards over the past two seasons. Robinson has done that while catching passes from a less-than-stellar group of quarterbacks in Chicago. If placed on the trade block, he will have ample interested.
Teams that make the most sense in an Allen Robinson trade
- Indianapolis Colts: It’s not yet known whether T.Y. Hilton will return to Indianapolis in free agency. Even if he does, the team needs to find another weapon or two for new quarterback Carson Wentz. Robinson would give him that true No. 1 receiver Wentz never really had in Philadelphia. The Colts are also an estimated $39.86 million under the cap. They can make this work from a financial perspective.
- Las Vegas Raiders: Jon Gruden and Co. already signed deep threat John Brown in free agency. However, there’s a tremendous need to find a true No. 1 for franchise quarterback Derek Carr. Robinson would work great with both Brown and 2020 first-round pick Henry Ruggs. We also know that Gruden has been chasing after that star receiver. Remember the Antonio Brown fiasco?
- New England Patriots: An Allen Robinson trade to New England would pretty much set the world on fire. It’s also not an impossibility. These Patriots have been the most-active team during free agency, primarily looking to find weapons for Cam Newton. That has included signing receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne as well as tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Don’t discount New England just yet.
- San Francisco 49ers: Close, but no cigar. That’s the situation San Francisco found itself in attempting to acquire Odell Beckham Jr. ahead of the 2019 season. In fact, GM John Lynch thought the team had the best offer. Regardless, the 49ers have been searching for someone of Robinson’s ilk. He’d be a tremendous asset with a skill-position group that already includes George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Given San Francisco’s cap situation, this seems unlikely. However, restructuring Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract could make it work.