(670 The Score) Since contract extension negotiations with the Bears broke down in September, top receiver Allen Robinson emphasized his focus would remain on football.
Now Robinson's football season is over after the Bears lost 21-9 to the Saints on Sunday in a wild-card round game in New Orleans. That means he heads into an offseason in which he's set to become an unrestricted free agent. In the final season of a three-year deal with Chicago, Robinson posted 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. The Bears figure to have plenty of competition to retain him if they let him hit the open market this offseason.
"Right now, everything is pretty much on the table," Robinson said Monday. "Over the past three years since I stepped foot in Chicago, I've created a great respect for the organization, for the McCaskey family. (I'm) definitely thankful for them and for the facility that we have and the things they provide us to come to work with every day -- from the facilities, to the kitchen and everything like that. Even creating some relationships with the Payton family. So, I've created a lot of relationships and everything like that here. But right now, everything is on the table.
"There are more things that weigh out than just fondness."
Robinson, 27, projects to be one of the top players available on the open market. The Bears can prevent that from happening by tendering the franchise tag, which would cost $18 million, according to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus. But it wouldn't sit well with Robinson.
"I plead the fifth on that," Robinson said.
The Bears could also use the transition tag, which which give them matching rights should Robinson agree to an offer with another team. The Bears utilized the transition tag to lock in cornerback Kyle Fuller in March 2018, matching the Packers' four-year, $56-million offer. If that were the path, Robinson's market value could be defined by another organization, then the Bears could either match it or part ways.
Since joining the Bears, Robinson has earned admiration from his teammates and coaches for his constant level of professionalism and consistent production. In 2018, the Bears watched him fight through a rigorous rehabilitation from the torn ACL that he suffered in 2017 while in Jacksonville and get himself healthy in time for the regular season.
The Bears also saw Robinson lead a young group of receivers by example and came to appreciate how he handled a difficult season marked by contract concerns.
"He's been huge," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said of Robinson. "He's a leader of our offense. He's our No. 1 receiver. The way he practices and handles himself on a daily basis, I think all the young guys look up to A-Rob just as the ultimate pro. Everything he earns on the field, he puts in the work for. He's a great teammate.
"He's been a great friend, brother to me. It's been awesome to share the field with him. I'm just lucky to throw him the ball."
Robinson's contract negotiations with the Bears came to a halt in part because general manager Ryan Pace and the front office wondered whether he could stack consecutive high-level seasons. Robinson hauled in a career-best 98 catches in 2019 after his previous high was only 80. He caught 102 passes in 2020, giving him 200 combined over the past two seasons.
Robinson hopes to land $20 million annually in his next contract, which would match peers in the Cowboys' Amari Cooper and Chargers' Keenan Allen. The Bears may be unable to match other suitors' offers to Robinson on the open market due to salary cap constraints.
While Robinson has appreciated his three seasons with the Bears, he's ready to explore his options.
"I do have a great fondness for this city and for the organization," Robinson said. "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."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.