It certainly doesn’t seem as if the Chicago Bears are going to be re-signing Allen Robinson to a long-term extension, which means they have to find a way to make his exit a positive for the future of the franchise. The best way to do that is by moving him in a deal that would help the team draft the next franchise quarterback.
As I wrote last week, the team’s options at quarterback are relatively limited and trading up would cost them more picks than most GMs would be comfortable with unloading. Their most valuable asset could be Robinson through a tag and trade scenario.
In recent years, worse receivers have been traded for first round picks, so that’s where the bidding could start for Robinson. Last year, Stefon Diggs was traded for the 22nd pick and some change after a season in which he caught just 63 passes. Considering he’ll be on the franchise tag with a hefty raise coming, it’s not unreasonable to consider Robinson as having the same value as Diggs.
Trading Robinson makes the Bears future prospects at least a little more interesting.
The team that stands out as possibly being interested, of course, is the Miami Dolphins. They’re largely expected to draft a wide receiver but what if they just offered the 18th pick for Robinson plus? Then they can take Penei Sewell with the third pick. Or maybe we get crazy and the Bears throw in a 2022 first round pick, Robinson and the 20th pick for the third pick?
(Hey, it all works out in the trade value chart.)
The Dolphins are just one team. Cincinnati (fifth pick) surely wants a go-to target for Joe Burrow. The value of Robinson and the 20th pick would be 1630 points compared to the fifth-pick’s value of 1,700. The Bears could throw in a future second and come on down Justin Fields.
Any serious assets the Bears can get for Robinson will help them move up and get a quarterback. And, let’s be clear, if they don’t get a quarterback, this offseason is a failure.
That said, if they can’t get a first round pick – or a handful of picks – the Bears should keep Robinson on the franchise tag. He’ll show up, Le’Veon Bell didn’t set a great example for those who don’t.
Moving Robinson, of course, would leave the Bears short on targets for the incoming rookie quarterback. But they could potentially sign Kenny Golladay at two-thirds the price of Robinson or Marvin Jones at half. Take a flier on Sammy Watkins or maybe bring Curtis Samuel (and his 4.31 speed) to play the Zebra.
The beauty of this potential trade is that the Bears would still have picks to try and get a new number one wide receiver. There’s no question that wide receivers are valuable, but there are so many good ones, is it worth paying $20 million per year for one? Hell, the Arizona Cardinals offense went from 13th in DVOA to 19th after adding DeAndre Hopkins and he’s much better than Robinson.
It’s also entirely possible, maybe even likely, that the franchise’s future number one is already on the roster. Darnell Mooney’s rookie season wasn’t nothing. Mooney has been made a punch line because George McCaskey listed him as a reason for keeping Ryan Pace, but he looked every bit like a future star. Now imagine if he had a QB who could throw more than 15 yards down the field with any sort of accuracy or consistency.
Robinson doesn’t want to come back. Maybe at one point he did, but that ship has sailed. He isn’t even negotiating through the media. He’s openly telling us he’s not going to be back and it’s their fault.
He has a price tag and they have a dollar amount they’re willing to spend. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But the Bears can’t lose Robinson for nothing, or a third-round compensation pick. They have to look at him as an asset that can help them get a quarterback.