Emma: Despite chance for fresh start with Bears, Allen Robinson likely headed elsewhere


(670 The Score) In theory, this offseason could provide a fresh start between the Bears and veteran receiver Allen Robinson.

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After all, there’s a new Bears general manager in charge with whom Robinson could work out a contract and a new coaching staff that could refine his role in the offense after a disappointing 2021 season. The frustrations Robinson may have felt toward former general manager Ryan Pace and former coach Matt Nagy don’t matter anymore now that they’ve each been fired.

But despite the changes at Halas Hall, it seems unlikely that the 28-year-old Robinson and the Bears will reach a new deal this offseason. The sides are likely to go their separate ways when free agency begins in March.

Robinson and the Bears had contract negotiations break down in September 2020 and never came close on a long-term deal before he played the 2021 season on the franchise tag. It spurred frustration from Robinson toward Pace, as the two sides viewed Robinson’s market value differently.

In 2021, Robinson struggled with injuries and failed to develop chemistry with then-rookie quarterback Justin Fields. After combining to make 200 catches across the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Robinson hauled in just 38 receptions over a dozen games in 2021. While Nagy often heaped praise on Robinson, he didn’t prioritize his presence in the offense.

That has brought Robinson and the Bears to a new offseason, one that first-time general manager Ryan Poles will oversee in Chicago. Robinson is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and the Bears need a playmaking receiver to work opposite of Darnell Mooney.

It’s unlikely the Bears would again utilize the franchise tag on Robinson. Assuming they don't, he'll discover his true market value as a free agent.

Poles and his brass should at least engage in contract discussions with Robinson. Perhaps Poles values Robinson more than Pace and is prepared to offer a long-term contract. Still, it’s reasonable for both sides to move on this offseason. Robinson could finally land with the established quarterback whom he’s never worked with in his career – hello, Aaron Rodgers? – while the Bears could look elsewhere to find a dynamic deep threat for Fields. Michael Gallup (Cowboys) or D.J. Chark (Jaguars) would fit well in Chicago.

For Robinson, this offseason represents the chance to sign a third contract in his prime. He signed with the Bears in 2018 while recovering from a torn ACL the he suffered the previous season. Pro Football Focus projects his market value this offseason to be a three-year, $42-million deal, which is exactly what he landed from Chicago in free agency in 2018.

Robinson could also covet a one-year deal to prove himself again after his limited production last season. But that of course would come with inherent risk.

To Robinson’s credit, he handled himself like a complete professional during his four seasons with the Bears. It’s why there will be many within Halas Hall hoping he lands a lucrative deal this offseason.

It just isn’t likely to come from the Bears.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.