While the Chicago Bears and Allen Robinson have been unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension there is a way for the team to ensure he is back in 2021. The Bears could franchise tag their franchise wide receiver, which would keep him for the 2021 season.
The tag period is from February 23 through March 9. This would potentially open a new can of worms, but it would ensure that Robinson will not enter free agency.
The issue around franchising Robinson would come in a few ways. To start, he may not want to play for Chicago anymore. Moving beyond that, Robinson tore his ACL and knows that long term security is huge. Playing with one year left on your deal is always risky.
Robinson would like to work out a long term deal, and the franchise tag buys the Bears time, but we know that they have talked and have not worked anything out. Nothing will change, and Robinson would play on the tag in most scenarios.
Lower Salary Cap, Means Lower Tag Amount
Beyond losing the long term security, Robinson also may lose a bit on his actual worth. When looking at the market for wide receivers, Robinson could demand $20 million pretty easily with more than one team bidding.
However, the franchise tag was $18.5 million last year. In most scenarios, the tag number would go up and would be right around the $20 million he was expected to see. However, this year, with the COVID impacted salary cap, the price of a tag may go down.
In fact, overthecap.com has a franchise tag for wide receivers going down to $16 million. The lowest it could be is $15.3 million.
The franchise tag could come in $4-5 million below what he is expected to get. The franchise tag makes a lot of sense for Chicago in that they get Robinson for next year, and at a lower than market price. It does not work for Robinson in that he loses long term security and a chance to make more money.
Tag and Trade?
It could get messy if a tag occurred and no extension was near. However, the Chicago Bears may be wise to tag Robinson anyway. At the very worst, they should do it for the tag and trade.
This has not been something that has occurred often, but in recent years we have seen teams work out deals by tagging a star and trading him to a team willing to sign him to an extension.
Recent examples are Jarvis Landry, Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney, and Frank Clark.
In the case of Clark, the Seahawks got a first and second-round pick. For Ford, the 49ers gave up a second. Tagging Robinson and getting an extra second-round pick to let the New York Giants give him $20 million per year is not the worst option when considering the Bears are not budging on their stance to pay that value for him.
Nonetheless, it seems as though a franchise tag is coming. It is smart business for the Bears to either lock in a high-end player on a cheaper than market deal, or get a draft pick for trading him to the team intended on leaving them for anyway. They will deal with Robinson and how he feels about being tagged later. You should expect a franchise tag coming in the three weeks.