The Bears have renewed efforts towards securing a long-term extension with top receiver Allen Robinson, league sources said, after the veteran vented some frustration last week and unfollowed teammates and Bears-related entities on social media. However, significant hurdles remained between the sides through the weekend, and if a deal is going to be completed in-season it will come next week, with this not a negotiation that will drag on indefinitely.
Robinson is in the final year of his deal with the offensively-challenged Bears and has been playing with subpar quarterbacks his entire career dating back to Jacksonville. Receiver salaries have soared in the past year, while Robinson is making $14 million this year and is due to make $13 million next year. The pace of negotiations intensified after the social media matter became a national story, sources said, but there have remained "some fundamental differences in the valuation of the player" according to a source with knowledge of the situation as the sides have continued to trade proposals.
Elite receivers are getting in the vicinity of $19-20 million a year on the open market and via extensions. The 2020 free agent class of receivers is relatively slim, with many evaluators I spoke to believing Robinson is by far the superior option to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Will Fuller and T.Y. Hilton, among others. The Bears are not viewed as a particularly progressive organization within the industry when it comes to contractual matters like this, and the reality is they cost themselves millions already in not securing a deal with Robinson last year, well before the market began to soar. It remains to be seen if they can get beyond that to pay what top receivers are now commanding.
The Bears are not entertaining trading Robinson, sources said, and Robinson has not requested a trade despite his frustration, contrary to a report.
The odds of Robinson hitting the market are very slim, sources said, with the Bears virtually certain to apply the franchise tag in 2021 if need be. While the sides have a ways to go to complete a deal, and this is a fluid situation that certainly took several twists and turns last week alone, the end game remains likely to include Robinson in Chicago in 2021. But it will require a significant financial commitment to secure him beyond then, and negotiations not likely to extend much deeper into the season.