Here’s the truth about the Chicago Bears offense: they’ve got players.
The interior of their offensive line is now young, talented and deep. Sam Mustipher is a starting center. Cody Whitehair, Alex Bars and James Daniels all proved they can play at a high level. And all four will only improve under the tutelage of Juan Castillo.
David Montgomery has established himself as one of the better running backs in the league, and the backfield will be more dynamic in 2021 with the return of Tarik Cohen.
Rookies Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet combined for 89 catches, 874 yards and 6 touchdowns. They did so with sub-mediocrity from the quarterback position, and with Kmet having to wait until December for a game with more than two catches.
The Bears need to add talent at tackle, and should always be adding weapons on the outside. But one thing they can not worry about in 2021 is replacing Allen Robinson as their top receiver option.
Robinson’s game is not without flaws. He seemingly never wins 50/50 jump balls, and many of those manage to end up in the hands of defensive backs. He lacks the kind of speed to threaten defenses over the top. But he’s one of the more steady, reliable receivers in the league. His 102 catch, 1,250 yard, 6 touchdown performance in 2020 – especially considering the quarterback play – is one of the more impressive seasons in team history.
The Bears should not even consider a roster next season without him. And that consideration does not require paying him north of $80 million, despite the #ExtendARob movement on social media. The Bears have made many substantial, lucrative offers to Robinson and his side has rejected all of them. He wants $100 million. No one is going to pay him that.
The franchise tag exists for this exact situation. If Robinson doesn’t like that outcome, too damn bad. Nothing bothers me more than players complaining about the tag, an admittedly-absurd designation their union agreed to in collective bargaining. If players don’t like the tag – and none of them seem to – they should hire someone with gravitas to run the NFLPA and eliminate the damn thing. In the meantime, no one should criticize a team for doing what is economically prudent.
Robinson’s tag number next season would be around $16-18 million, and the Bears could free that money up pretty easily. Having Robinson under control makes the Bears more appealing for Deshaun Watson. Having Robinson under control makes the Bears a more comfortable landing spot for Jimmy Garoppolo, or whatever veteran the Bears end up wooing. Having Robinson under control creates an easier rookie campaign for a high draft pick, should that fella end up the starting quarterback in September.
Will Robinson complain about it? Of course he will. But he’ll also show up and play. Because every game of his holdout would cost him a million dollars. And guys don’t leave that kind of money on the table.
If Robinson is allowed to hit free agency, the Bears will lose him. They don’t have the cap space to compete for his services. So why bother? Use the tools at your disposal, franchise him, and guarantee the return 2020’s most consistent offensive weapon in 2021.