As most could have accurately predicted, Chicago Bears wideout Allen Robinson II will see his name continue to buzz around the upcoming NFL trade deadline.
Robinson accepted the franchise tag in March as the Bears flirted with free agents like Kenny Golladay, but a contract extension never materialized. He has since been a non-factor in Matt Nagy's erratic passing attack.
Over the season's first five games, Robinson has received 29 targets, the second-highest mark on the team, yet caught just 17 of them for 181 yards and a score. He's failed to go over 35 receiving yards in four of his five starts and finished behind Darnell Mooney in receiving two games in a row.
So far, he's well short of his 1,100-plus-yard seasons on 150-plus targets from each of the past two years. With a rookie Justin Fields taking over for Andy Dalton, things don't project to get much better. In Fields' last two starts, he's attempted 37 passes yet targeted Robinson just eight times. That omits Week 3, and understandably so given Fields completed just six passes and suffered nine sacks in a clunker of a loss to the Cleveland Browns (Robinson caught two passes for 27 yards).
Robinson has been saddled with droves of poor passers in the past (Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, etc.), yet produced like a top-20 player at his position consistently, averaging 13 yards per catch for his career with 40 scores. However, a Nagy-directed attack that produced that Week 3 disaster doesn't speak well to his season-long upside in Chicago.
At 3-2, the Bears will have to judge whether they want to stick in a win-now mode and see where this thing goes or cash in on some valuable assets while building around Fields for the future. On paper, Robinson is a strong trade asset because they could get something in return for him.
The Bears probably won't get what he's actually worth since every team in the NFL sees what's happening here—franchise-tagged wideout on his way out the door in free agency, after all—but almost anything is better than getting nothing for his likely eventual departure. But that makes him one heck of a trade target for teams in need, and the following teams classify.
The 2-3 Eagles are playing with house money, boasting as many as three first-round picks next year—all of them high in the draft order, pending how the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts perform this year—thanks to prior moves.
So why not ship a third-rounder at best for Robinson?
With a quarterback as young and talented as Jalen Hurts (64.8 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, three interceptions), the goal should be to surround him with as much talent as possible. Tenth-overall pick DeVonta Smith looks promising, and 2020 sixth-rounder Quez Watkins averages a gaudy 20.5 yards per catch right now, but 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor has been a flop, sitting fifth on the team in receiving.
Robinson would be the best wideout in Philadephia, perhaps bring out the best in a pair for former first-rounder receivers and help Hurts. If Hurts continues on his trajectory, the Eagles could have three premium first-rounders to flesh out the roster of a contender around him. The Eagles just have to make the gain for the Bears at least match a compensatory pick if Robinson leaves as a free agent.
New England Patriots
The Patriots probably aren't going to contend this year at 2-3 with the Buffalo Bills running wild in the AFC East, but they are trying to develop first-round passer Mac Jones.
To that end, things have been ho-hum at best. Jakobi Meyers is the team's leading receiver with 302 yards on 31 catches. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have combined for three touchdowns, while fellow free-agent splash Nelson Agholor is merely fourth on the receiving list.
Given New England's sudden spend-happy ways this past offseason, trading for Robinson then coughing up a big extension to keep him as a No. 1 threat for Jones isn't that unrealistic. That is especially the case if the asking price is some combination of a third and a fifth-round pick or a player like wideout Kendrick Bourne included.
If the Steelers fancy themselves contenders at 2-3 despite the oft-miserable-looking play from Ben Roethlisberger, they're going to need to do something at wideout in the wake of losing JuJu Smith-Schuster for the season.
Smith-Schuster wasn't lighting it up after finding a timid free-agent market and settling back on a prove-it deal with the Steelers. His 129 receiving yards rank fourth on the team. But the idea of shifting Chase Claypool and Robinson in and out of the slot is alluring, especially for an offense with quarterback problems.
The Steelers do have intriguing prospects with Diontae Johnson and James Washington still, but the former has battled drops and the latter saw his name in trade buzz as recently as August.
Packaging a pick with Washington or some other middling offer, while retaining Johnson, to get a half-season rental of Robinson at worst is one way to make a serious run of this thing.
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston has the Saints off to an erratic yet entertaining offensive start at 3-2 via his 12 touchdown passes against three interceptions. He's doing it without Michael Thomas, with former undrafted players Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway leading the team in receiving.
Harris and Callaway have been fun developments while combining for five touchdowns in as many games, but the next wideout on the receiving chart is all the way down in sixth place (Ty Montgomery with 50 yards).
Thomas will eventually return from injured reserve, but he'll be rusty, both in a game-shape sense and from developing a rapport with a new quarterback. Shipping off a third-rounder and change for Robinson and letting him run wild—before pairing him with Thomas for a postseason run—would be a smooth move for a team that is more competitive amid a mini-rebuild than most likely anticipated.