The Bears top offensive playmaker is upset.
Receiver Allen Robinson deleted any mention of the Chicago Bears from his Twitter and Instagram bios. In fact, his Instagram account no longer shows any photos of Robinson in a Bears uniform.
Instagram users don’t have to scroll far to see Robinson in a Jacksonville Jaguars jersey, where he played for four years prior to coming to Chicago. But the Bears are nowhere to be found.
Robinson, who is in the final year of his three-year, $42 million contract, wants an extension. He won’t say it publicly, but it’s not hard to see.
In years past, the Bears have frequently extended key members of their team during training camp. Robinson fit the bill in 2020. Yet, here things stand. At 27, he’s in the prime of his career and just had his best season in a Bears uniform, catching 98 passes for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019.
He opened the 2020 season on Sunday with five catches for 74 yards against the Detroit Lions.
Robinson has said, repeatedly, in interviews that he's focused on the field. He continually reiterates that whatever happens with the contract is out of his hands.
Erasing the Bears from his social media feed indicates otherwise.
“I don’t look too much into stuff,” Robinson said on Sept. 8. “I know, as far as for me and what I’m looking to get out of this season, I have a lot of stuff that I still want to [accomplish] – plays I want to make. I’m not content with what I’ve done in this league or even as a Bear. I got a lot of stuff, many more things I want to accomplish, and that’s where my head is at right now.”
Robinson was seventh in the NFL in receptions in 2019 and 14th overall in receiving yards. He is a former Pro Bowl receiver who has twice totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards, yet the primary quarterbacks he has played in his career with are Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky.
According to spotrac.com, his $14 million average annual salary ranks 16th among NFL receivers. In terms of total contract value, his $42 million ranks 19th among NFL receivers.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace could be hesitant because the NFL has not cemented the salary cap for 2021, due to the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic. The cap will not be any less than $175 million. It could, however, be higher if revenue is better than expected this season. For context, this year’s cap is $198.2 million. Prior to the pandemic, next year’s cap was expected to be around $210 million.
Those uncertainties haven’t stopped other teams from extended key players at lofty prices, though.
Last week, Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins signed a two-year contract extension worth $54.5 million. Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen signed a four-year contract worth up to $80 million, with $43 million guaranteed.
Robinson seems to believe he belongs up there with the top receivers in the NFL.
Some of his teammates are in agreement. Running back Tarik Cohen tweeted: "#ExtendAR." Rookie receiver Darnell Mooney quoted Cohen, and added three exclamation points.
Pace has not said much on the matter.
“When we work on these deals, we know how important A-Rob is to us, not just as a player but as a teammate,” Pace said on Sept. 7. “But those things are going to remain behind the scene as we work through the process.”
The Bears have had months to work out a deal with Robinson, yet they haven’t.
That could mean any number of things. Maybe Robinson’s asking price is too high for their liking? Maybe the 2021 cap is a concern for the Bears? Maybe Robinson just wants out?
The timing is curious for Robinson. Why do this now, one week into the season?
He and many of his peers didn’t hold out in 2020 due to a change in the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the NFL Players Association. Players who hold out run the risk of losing an accrued season much earlier in training camp than they used to. In past years, that date was mid-August. Now, that deadline is late July. The owners are hoping training camp holdouts can become a thing of the past.
Which leads to this: The Bears top offensive player indicating he’s unhappy as the team is coming off a huge come-from-behind victory that made for a feel-good Week 1.
Every time Robinson steps onto the field, he runs the risk of suffering an injury and watching his 2021 value fall. He knows that, and the Bears know that.
He made it through Week 1 unscathed, and maybe – from Robinson's perspective – now is actually the perfect time to prove a point.