Robinson has "zero plans" to sign the franchise tag in the "immediate future" and may wind up holding out if negotiations go poorly, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter:
"Allen Robinson, I'm told, has zero plans to sign his franchise tag in the immediate future. So considering their contract negotiations in the fall did not go well, this could drag out a long while where Robinson doesn't show up, doesn't sign that tag. Because when they talked in the past, the Bears made clear they have no plans to give him that top dollar at wide receiver. You know, that $20 million range that the best players now get.
"So not only would Robinson like to see that change, he'd like some clarity on the quarterback situation as well. He's had spotty play there the last three years in Chicago, and there's no clear-cut answer on the roster right now. And so, Robinson has that $18 million tag waiting for him whenever he does sign—if he signs."
Robinson is under no obligation to join the Bears until he signs the tag. He could theoretically sit out all of the team's offseason programs and preseason games without missing a paycheck. We've seen several high-profile stars forgo offseason programs when tagged in recent seasons, and Le'Veon Bell famously sat out the entire 2018 season rather than play on the tag.
The Bears likely knew they were bracing for a potentially contentious situation when they franchised Robinson. There were rumors he asked for a trade last season, and the Penn State product expressed frustration with the status of negotiations in a February interview with Tyler Dunne.
"Unfortunately we've come to what seems to be a fork in the road," Robinson said. "But not even a fork. We haven't even been given a viable option to be able to do those things that we want to do without sacrificing a ridiculous amount pretty much for the rest of my career."
Robinson recorded 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. No other Bears receiver had more than 631 yards. Despite a lack of progression from Mitchell Trubisky, Robinson has been among the NFL's most productive receivers during his three years in Chicago and clearly wants to be paid like one of the game's best.
The tag would give Robinson an $18 million base salary for 2021, which is likely below his average annual salary demands in a long-term deal. Four different receivers have an annual salary averaging $20 million, which seems about right as a baseline expectation for Robinson.
If the Bears aren't willing to reach that price (or more) in a long-term deal, things could get contentious between now and the July 15 extension deadline.