CHICAGO - The Chicago Bears placed the franchise tag on star receiver Allen Robinson on Tuesday, setting up a potential messy situation with their most consistent playmaker on offense.
The sides have until July 15 to reach a multiyear deal. Otherwise, he would play next season for approximately $16.4 million assuming he signs.
Robinson agreed to a three-year, $42 million contract when he joined Chicago in 2018 after playing his first four seasons in Jacksonville. He is coming off one of his best seasons.
Robinson caught a career-high 102 passes. And his 1,250 yards were second only to the 1,400 he had with the Jaguars in his 2015 Pro Bowl season.
Robinson has 3,151 yards and 17 touchdowns since joining the Bears. He has 5,999 yards and 39 touchdowns in his career even though he has never played with an elite quarterback.
"Hey, we love Allen Robinson," general manager Ryan Pace said recently. "He’s a great player for us. We know that. And 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 has made it clear he is no fan of the franchise tag, which limits players’ ability to sign elsewhere.
Teams who use it must tender a one-year contract for a figure based on the average of the five highest salaries at the position — or for 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is higher. Those teams also have the right to match any offer a franchise player receives. And if they decline, they get two first-round draft picks in return.
"That’s a tough situation man, because, for myself, I believe I’m deserving of a long-term deal," he said recently on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast. "Not only as a player, but as a person who is involved in the culture. You know, I’m a person who — you know, I feel like I’ve helped build Chicago’s culture. I feel like wherever — whether that’s Chicago or somewhere else — wherever my next stop may be, I think I will be a contributing factor to that culture. Again, for myself, that’s a significant value."
The Bears made the playoffs despite going 8-8 in the regular season for the second year in a row, then got knocked out in a convincing wild-card loss at New Orleans. Besides re-signing Robinson, they also need a starting quarterback.
Mitchell Trubisky is a free agent after the Bears decided not to exercise their fifth-year option for 2021 prior to last season. The former No. 2 overall draft pick got benched in favor of Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles — acquired from Jacksonville a year ago to push him — during a Week 3 comeback win at Atlanta. Trubisky returned to the lineup in late November and played better down the stretch.
Foles, who struggled, is the only quarterback the Bears have under contract for next season.