Ranking the Top 5 Most Likely Destinations for Allen Robinson II in 2021
Nearly six full weeks remain in the 2020 NFL season, and there's a lot of football left to be played. While only the New York Jets have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, it is time for some teams to start thinking about the coming offseason.
Free agency will be a big part of the 2021 offseason, and Chicago Bears wideout Allen Robinson II should be one of the top targets available. The seventh-year receiver has already amassed 63 receptions, 755 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in a Chicago offense that ranks just 25th in passing and 31st in scoring.
Robinson had originally sought a contract extension from Chicago but has since put that desire behind him.
"After Week 2 or Week 3, I was putting that behind me," he said, per Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It comes down to just playing."
Robinson's next contract will likely come via free agency, but will he get it from Chicago or some other organization? We'll examine five prime landing spots based on factors like need, scheme fit and cap space.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Would Robinson really return to the Jacksonville Jaguars? At first blush, it seems unlikely.
Like Chicago, Jacksonville has lacked consistency at quarterback, and it is the team Robinson left to join the Bears. The Jaguars also have a couple of promising young receivers in DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr.
However, it wouldn't be prudent to rule out Jacksonville as a dark-horse destination. Robinson was close to signing an extension there before suffering a torn ACL in 2017 and ultimately deciding to move on.
"I would say we were decently close," Robinson told ESPN 960 (h/t Jay Johnson of Jags Wire).
Allen could be intrigued by playing with an incoming rookie quarterback like Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State's Justin Fields. The one-win Jaguars are barreling toward having just such a signal-caller under center in 2021.
Returning to the Jaguars could also allow Robinson to land the lucrative deal he has been chasing. Jacksonville is projected to have the second-most cap space of any NFL team next offseason.
The Jaguars might actually be higher on Robinson's list than they are on this one because with Shenault and Chark on the roster, receiver isn't the biggest need for this franchise. If they want to load up and support their next franchise quarterback, though, they could do worse than bringing Robinson back.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals might be another dark-horse team to watch in free agency because Robinson would get the opportunity to play with Joe Burrow, assuming the rookie quarterback is able to fully recover from his season-ending knee injury.
Before he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee, Burrow had racked up 2,688 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
The Bengals, projected to be armed with $41.9 million in cap space, could also afford to dole out the sort of cash Robinson is seeking. The question is whether they would do so.
In years past, the answer would probably be no. However, the Bengals were willing to spend on free agents like D.J. Reader, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes this past offseason in anticipation of adding Burrow. They also brought back wideout A.J. Green on the franchise tag.
Green, who has just 357 receiving yards and a touchdown, has largely disappointed and may not be back. John Ross, the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, almost certainly won't be. Ross sought a trade earlier in the year and has seen just one offensive snap since Week 2.
The Bengals have two good young receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. However, bringing in the 27-year-old Robinson could help give them one of the best receiving corps in the AFC. With Burrow under center, they could be set up with one of the league's most explosive passing attacks for the next half-decade or more.
3. Chicago Bears
Right now, it feels like the Bears have about a 50-50 chance of retaining Robinson in the offseason. They have an underwhelming quarterback duo in Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky, and Robinson's agent, Brandon Parker, has been unhappy with the receiver's red-zone role.
"Throw 12 the Damn Ball in the Redzone! JUST ONCE! My goodness," Parker said in a now-deleted tweet (h/t Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk).
Still, Robinson has had success in Chicago—he had 1,147 yards and seven scores last season—and seems to believe in his teammates.
"With Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller, myself, Jimmy Graham, we've got the guys," he said, per Alyssa Barbieri of Bears Wire.
In all likelihood, the Bears won't have either Foles or Trubisky starting next season. If they miss the playoffs, head coach Matt Nagy and his staff could be gone, too. The idea of playing with the same skill-position guys but catching passes from a new quarterback and in a new system could be intriguing.
The Bears are projected to be just under the salary cap, but they should be able to free up the money to re-sign Robinson if they are intent on doing so.
2. Washington Football Team
Like Jacksonville, the Washington Football Team could have a new young quarterback under center in 2021. Unlike the Jaguars and the Bengals, Washington has a pretty significant need at the receiver position.
The Football Team has a tremendous young wideout in Terry McLaurin, but that's about it. And while McLaurin has been a serviceable No. 1 option, he could desperately use a reliable running mate like Robinson.
Pairing the two would give Washington arguably the second-best receiver duo in the NFC East, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys tandem of CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. That would be a benefit whether Washington moves on to another quarterback of the future or sticks with resurgent veteran Alex Smith under center.
For Robinson, the allure would be the franchise's future. If the Football Team can find a steady presence under center, it could be poised to succeed in the division for the foreseeable future. Washington is building a dominant defensive front, has a good young running back in Antonio Gibson and boasts a seasoned head coach in Ron Rivera.
Right now, the NFC East is a bad division that is there for the taking.
Washington could also meet Robinson's financial desires as it is projected to have more than $50 million in cap space, fifth-most in the league.
1. New York Jets
Will Trevor Lawrence be the New York Jets' starting quarterback in 2021?
If the Clemson star decides to leave college, he will almost certainly be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, and right now, Jacksonville is New York's only real competition for that No. 1 selection.
If the winless Jets land Lawrence and a competent head coach—an Adam Gase return would be a relative shock—they could become a prime destination for young pass-catchers. They also have a huge need for receiver help. New York has a couple of nice complementary pieces like Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims, but there isn't a proven No. 1—or even No. 2—wideout on the roster.
Last week, we examined the Jets as a top destination for pending free-agent receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. It wouldn't be a surprise to see New York sign both him and Robinson. No team is projected to have more cap space next season.
Adding Robinson would help ensure that Lawrence—or whoever New York tabs as its quarterback of the future—would have enough receiving talent to succeed immediately. It's the sort of luxury Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert have had during their rookie seasons.
For Robinson, a desire to join the Jets could hinge on their next coaching hire. However, the chance to play in a major market, with a potentially generational quarterback and on a high-level salary could be difficult for him to resist.
Cap and contract information via Spotrac.