(670 The Score) With the deadline to apply the franchise tag looming next Tuesday, Bears general manager Ryan Pace remains hopeful his team will retain star receiver Allen Robinson for 2021.
Robinson, 27, will become an unrestricted free agent if the Bears don’t tender a tag or work out a contract extension with him. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Pace didn’t commit to using the franchise tag but spoke highly of what Robinson means to the organization.
"We love Allen Robinson," Pace said. "He’s a great player for us. We know that. Not just the player but the teammate, the professional that he is. Again, the franchise tag is an option for us. It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to use that. But we want to keep our good players, and Allen is a good player for us."
Robinson had a career-high 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns in 2020, the final season of a three-year deal that he signed in March 2018. He has a combined 200 catches across the past two seasons.
Contract extension talks between Robinson and the Bears broke down last September, sources said. Robinson’s asking price is believed to start at $20 million annually, a source said. The franchise tag would pay him $18 million for 2021. Robinson has indicated he would prefer to not receive the franchise tag.
Robinson admitted in January that he felt a contract extension could’ve been worked out before the start of the 2020 season.
"I do have a great fondness for this city and for the organization," Robinson said then. "But unfortunately, in a situation like this, this isn't the only thing that matters.
"I personally feel like we had an opportunity to be able to get something done over the past 365 days."
Robinson would be one of the best receivers available on the open market if the Bears let him enter free agency. If he left, the Bears would also be without a viable replacement at receiver. Darnell Mooney was the Bears' second-leading receiver with 61 receptions in his rookie season of 2020.
Pace declined to discuss the specifics of negotiations with Robinson’s representation but believes there’s a path to him returning -- whether that comes with or without a tag.
"It's just part of the process, and it's just going to take both parties to work together to make something work," Pace said. "I know Allen wants to be a Chicago Bear and we want him to be a Chicago Bear and it's a sensitive process that we're kind of in the middle of. And we got to work through it."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.