This all has to end with the Bears offering Allen Robinson the contract extension he deserves. Right?
I mean, how can it not? Robinson is the best player on the Bears' offense. He’s 27 and is coming off a 1,100-yard season. He’s among the most well-respected and well-liked players in the Bears’ locker room. His charity, the Allen Robinson Within Reach Foundation, does a lot of good things for in-need families and students in Chicago.
He’s an exemplary representative of the Chicago Bears both on and off the field. Those are the kind of guys teams sprint to reward with gobs of money long before they can sniff free agency. Or at least, should reward.
And yet, here we are, in mid-September without a contract extension for Robinson. So after the Bears’ Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, Robinson enacted a brilliant strategy: He deleted the words “Chicago Bears” from his Twitter bio and removed every single picture of him in a Bears uniform from his Instagram account.
And then the tweets came – not from him, but from his teammates. Anthony Miller even included a sparkling gif of a Brinks truck in his.
In case you thought there was nothing to any of this: Reportedly, according to the Chicago Tribune, Robinson asked the Bears to trade him. (Multiple text messages to Robinson’s agents sent by NBC Sports Chicago were not returned.)
ESPN's Adam Schefter, though, pushed back on the report of a trade request:
But here’s the thing: The Bears will work out an extension with Robinson and pay him the fair market value. Why? It makes way too much sense.
And it would be catastrophic if Ryan Pace let Robinson leave Chicago, either via a trade this year or free agency next year.
If Robinson is not on the Bears in 2021, what, exactly, is this team’s long-term plan? The only logical plan, at that point, would be a complete tear-down and rebuild – despite massive amounts of money tied up in talented players on defense like Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn (who has yet to practice in the month of September). So a rebuilding project would make about as much sense as not trying to keep Robinson in Chicago.
The Bears’ best long-term plan is to keep Robinson around, giving whoever their quarterback is in 2021 – Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles or someone else – a true No. 1 weapon, and the offense a fighting chance.
The Bears cannot use next year’s salary cap – which might decrease by as much as $23 million – as an excuse here. Pace said so himself earlier this month, when asked specifically about Robinson: “That’s not going to permit us from doing the things that we want to do.”
If one of the things the Bears want to do is keep one of the best receivers in the NFL in Chicago, then the cap isn’t an issue.
It hasn’t been an issue for the Los Angeles Chargers (four years, $80.1 million to Keenan Allen), the Arizona Cardinals (two years, $54.5 million to DeAndre Hopkins) or Los Angeles Rams (three years, $48 million to Cooper Kupp). It wasn’t an issue for the Minnesota Vikings or New Orleans Saints in signing running backs Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara, respectively, to massive contracts, either. Patrick Mahomes got nearly half a billion dollars from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Good players get paid. So if Robinson wants $20 million? Fine. He earned it. And if the Bears don’t want to pay it because they committed money elsewhere, well, then they shouldn’t have committed that money elsewhere.
And also, what kind of message would it send to the Bears’ locker room – and prospective free agents – to not reward Robinson with the contract extension he’s earned? Pace did good job of this in the past, signing Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Cody Whitehair to extensions before the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively.
Why Robinson didn’t make it four years in a row is a mystery, especially given all the other contracts given out around the league just before kickoff Sunday. But given Tuesday’s bubble-up of #ExtendAR tweets from players inside Halas Hall, the longer we go without an extension, the more you have to wonder if internal damage is being done.
But I also think an extension still will happen. Four years, $80 million or five years, $100 million – whatever it is, that’s the going rate for elite receivers like Allen or Amari Cooper. It’s what the going rate for Robinson will be. The Bears, unless they want to lose the fanbase and maybe their own locker room, need to be the ones to pay it.
The options are simple: Pay Robinson his money, and the Bears keep one of the best receivers in the NFL in Chicago for years to come. Don’t pay Robinson, and it’ll be a roundly-condemned debacle. The choice is clear. And the Bears, ultimately, will make the right choice.