Bears' Updated Salary Cap for 2021 Season After Allen Robinson II Franchise Tag

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II (12) runs a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears used the franchise tag Tuesday to retain wide receiver Allen Robinson II for the 2021 NFL season, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

His tag comes with a projected one-year, $17.88 million contract, according to Spotrac. Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus provided a look at the salary-cap ramifications:

Brad Spielberger @PFF_Brad

As expected here, Robinson stuck with the franchise tag, which will be $17.98M for Robinson Bears now about $25M over the 2021 salary cap (using OTC’s $180.5M projection) Currently 29th in the NFL, without a starting quarterback on the roster https://t.co/JCMMtvkuTb

Keeping Robinson, whether via the franchise tag or a long-term extension, was always going to add to the Bears' cap crunch, but they couldn't afford to lose their top offensive playmaker to free agency.

The 27-year-old Penn State product is coming off a strong 2020 season that saw him post a career high in catches (102) with 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. He recorded 1,400 yards and 14 scores during the 2015 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars en route to his only Pro Bowl selection to date.

General manager Ryan Pace said last week he'd "do what's best for the Bears," even though the decision to use the tag could disappoint the standout receiver.

"We love Allen Robinson. He's a great player for us," Pace told reporters. "... We want to keep our good players. And Allen is a good player for us."

Robinson explained on The Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman (via Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago) receiving the franchise tag was "on the bottom of my list of choices." He also explained why he doesn't think it's a fair situation for players:

"When you talk about a one-year deal, or whatever the case might be, something that you're kind of forced into—as a player, when you're coming off of 3,000 yards in three seasons, you help take a team to the playoffs two out of three years, you do feel deserving of the long-term, no matter where that will be. I think that's kind of what makes the franchise tag so tough. It's not the fact that I think I could get a long-term deal with probably 31 other teams, you know?... As a player, that should all be up to your discretion."

Robinson and the Bears have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension. If no deal is reached, he can only play under the one-year deal or opt to hold out for the entire year.

Meanwhile, Chicago's front office faces the difficult task of trying to get back under the salary cap while also trying to find a quarterback to compete with Nick Foles for the starting job since Mitchell Trubisky is set to hit free agency after an underwhelming four-year tenure.

Teams must be cap-compliant by the first day of the NFL's new league year, which is set for March 17.