Possible Landing Spots for Former Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson in 2022 Free AgencyJanuary 25, 2022
Possible Landing Spots for Former Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson in 2022 Free Agency
After a disappointing season with the Chicago Bears in 2021, wide receiver Allen Robinson may not be at the top of every fan's free-agent wish list. The 28-year-old played on the franchise tag and finished with only 38 catches for 410 yards and a single touchdown.
However, there's plenty to examine beyond the raw statistics here.
Robinson was once again hampered by inconsistent quarterback play. He was also limited to 12 games because of a hamstring injury and a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Robinson told reporters that he lost around 10 pounds during his illness and took a while to recover.
"Something that hits you with chest congestion and nasal congestion and stuff like that, all of that is going to be tough for anybody, especially having to get yourself back ready to play a game," he said, per Larry Mayer of the team's official website. "Losing weight and things like that, it's all factors in it."
Robinson had 1,250 receiving yards during the 2020 season, which suggests that he can still be a quality No. 1 receiver. Pro Football Focus has him as the 10th-ranked impending free agent before the market opens up on March 16.
Here, we'll examine eight potential landing spots for Robinson based on factors like team needs, cap space and 2022 outlook. Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Even though things didn't go as planned in 2021, Robinson should at least consider returning to Chicago. He's already familiar with quarterback Justin Fields and budding No. 1 receiver Darnell Mooney, and he might be more open to a return now that Matt Nagy is out as head coach.
During an appearance on ESPN Radio (h/t Brendan Sugrue of Bears Wire), Robinson said he didn't speak with Nagy for five months during the 2021 offseason, which made for an uncomfortable situation this season.
"Things like that coming into the season were a little unsettling for me, especially with that being my guy since the time I stepped foot in Chicago and us having open communication and things like that," Robinson said.
A lot could hinge on Chicago's coaching hire, but if Robinson is willing to return, the Bears could make it happen. He has a projected market value of $15.8 million annually, while Chicago has $34.4 million in projected cap space.
Robinson might not be eager to return to Chicago, but the Bears should be interested in bringing him back to further aid Fields' development.
If Robinson is more interested in landing with a contender than returning to Chicago, the Cleveland Browns could provide an ideal landing spot. The Browns won only eight games in 2021, but they should be back in the playoff mix next season with a healthy Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
Mayfield suffered a torn Labrum in Week 2 and battled multiple injuries throughout the season. But in 2020, he had 26 touchdown passes, only eight interceptions and a solid 95.9 quarterback rating.
Mayfield isn't elite, but he has the tools to be an above-average starter. What he doesn't have is a clear-cut No. 1 receiver, and the Browns desperately need to find him one.
Odell Beckham Jr. never quite meshed with Kevin Stefanski's run-heavy, play-action-oriented offense, and he forced his way out for Cleveland after the trade deadline. Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Browns with a mere 597 receiving yards this past season.
If Robinson can tally 1,250 receiving yards with the tandem of Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky under center, he should be able to produce similar numbers with Mayfield and the Browns. Armed with $28.6 million in projected cap space, Cleveland has enough room to fit Robinson onto its roster, and it should heavily consider doing so.
The Detroit Lions are in a similar spot as Chicago. Detroit isn't widely expected to be a contender in 2022, but it could use a receiver of Robinson's caliber.
With $29.3 million in projected cap space, the Lions also have the financial flexibility to get a deal done.
In Detroit, Robinson could benefit from playing opposite budding star Amon-Ra St. Brown. The USC product didn't break out until late in the 2021 season, but he broke out in a big way.
St. Brown caught at least eight passes in each of his final six games and finished his rookie season with 90 catches for 912 yards and five touchdowns. He is likely to earn plenty of defensive attention moving forward, which would afford Robinson regular one-on-one coverage opportunities if he were to join Detroit.
The Lions could use a potent perimeter receiver opposite St. Brown. While the rookie was dangerous this season, the Lions ranked only 24th in net yards per pass attempt. No other wideout topped 600 receiving yards for Detroit.
The question here is whether Robinson would be willing to enter the second year of a rebuild with a former division rival. If so, the Lions would be a prime destination.
Like the Browns, the Indianapolis Colts were close to being a playoff team in 2021. They remained in contention until the regular-season finale, but they were upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars and subsequently eliminated.
Like the other teams featured here, Indy could use a top-tier perimeter target like Robinson. The Colts have a solid young receiver in Michael Pittman Jr. but little else of note at the receiver position. Zach Pascal was second on the team with only 384 receiving yards.
The benefit of playing in Indianapolis would be the presence of running back Jonathan Taylor. The second-year star led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns.
With Taylor in the lineup, opposing defenses are forced to respect the ground game and regularly put extra defenders in the box. That opens up downfield opportunities for a vertical weapon like Robinson.
The Colts could give Robinson the chance to return to statistical form while also providing a realistic shot at the postseason. With $42.9 million in projected cap space, they could also give him the sort of lucrative, long-term deal that he didn't get from Chicago this past season.
Robinson left the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 to sign with the Bears, and the Jags are coming off a disastrous 2021 campaign. However, Jacksonville is a dark-horse landing spot for him that could make sense.
Jacksonville needs a No. 1 receiver to pair with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Marvin Jones Jr. was Lawrence's top target in 2021, finishing with 832 yards and four touchdowns, while Laviska Shenault Jr. (619 yards) was the only other Jaguar to top 500 receiving yards.
Robinson had a 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown Pro Bowl season with Jacksonville back in 2015 and is familiar with the franchise and the fanbase. He'd also get to play with a potentially elite quarterback in Lawrence, who struggled during his rookie season (71.9 passer rating) but has the physical tools needed to be a superstar.
Robinson has never played with an upper-echelon quarterback as a pro. Lawrence could change that if he shows growth under Jacksonville's next head coach.
The Jaguars are projected to have $61.3 million in cap space, so they also have the potential to dramatically improve their supporting cast in free agency. That could be another selling point for Robinson.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders reached the postseason and nearly knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round. While the Raiders have a decision to make at head coach, they appear to be only a few roster pieces away from being legitimate contenders in the AFC.
One thing Las Vegas needs is a true No. 1 receiver. Although Hunter Renfrow finished the 2021 season with a career-high 103 receptions, 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns, he isn't quite the vertical perimeter threat that Robinson can be.
Adding Robinson to a receiving corps that includes Renfrow, Bryan Edwards and tight end Darren Waller would give Las Vegas one of the more potent passing offenses in the NFL. The Raiders should be an attractive option for Robinson, too.
Derek Carr would instantly become the most proven quarterback with whom he has worked. While Carr might not have the raw upside of Lawrence, he's a three-time Pro Bowler with a tremendous amount of job security.
"The Raiders are all-in on Carr as the franchise guy," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote.
In addition to landing with a stable quarterbacking situation, Robinson could get his long-term deal in Las Vegas. The Raiders are projected to have $27.7 million in cap space.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers might be even more attractive to Robinson than the Raiders.
The Chargers have a young quarterback in Justin Herbert who looks like a star in the making. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2021 after throwing for 5,014 yards, 38 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Chargers also have tremendous weapons like wideout Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler. Opposing defenses have to respect both Allen and the running game, which would give Robinson his fair share of single coverage.
However, the Chargers would only have a need at receiver if Mike Williams departs in free agency. Williams posted career highs in receptions (76) and yards (1,146), but L.A. hasn't committed to keeping him yet.
"We'll figure out the future moving forward. But he's a big part of the football team this year," general manager Tom Telesco said, per Fernando Ramirez of FanNation.
If Williams departs, Robinson would be a tremendous replacement, and Los Angeles should rocket to the top of his wish list. The Chargers are projected to have $62.4 million in cap space, second-most in the NFL.
Washington Football Team
With a projected $37 million in cap space, the Washington Football Team has the means to add Robinson in free agency. Washington also has the need for a premier perimeter receiver opposite Terry McLaurin.
McLaurin led the Football Team with 1,053 receiving yards in 2021, but no other Washington receiver topped the 400-yard mark. Adam Humphries was second among receivers with only 383 yards.
Washington could desperately use a receiver like Robinson on the roster. While the WFT might not be the most attractive destination, Robinson could do worse.
Taylor Heinicke is far from perfect, but he was better in 2021 than what Robinson experienced in Chicago. Heinicke went 7-8 as a starter and posted a passer rating of 85.9. Chicago's quarterbacks—Fields, Andy Dalton and Nick Foles, along with a single attempt by running back David Montgomery—posted a cumulative rating of only 75.5.
While Washington won only seven games this past season, it won the NFC East in 2020 and could be a few pieces away from returning to the top in the division. Robinson could be one of those pieces, and the Football Team would be foolish not to consider him.
Cap and contract information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.