A new era of Bears football begins in 2018 with Matt Nagy leading the way as the 16th head coach in franchise history. But for Nagy to succeed, he’ll need an injection of talent at various positions across the field – free agency is one such avenue for that improvement.
So let’s take a look at some of the more promising available players, to see if there might be a fit with the Chicago Bears.
Player, Age (in 2018), Position
Allen Robinson, 25, wide receiver
Season stats: 1 game (1 start), 1 catch, 17 yards
Robinson’s ACL injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the talented receiver who was in the final year of his rookie deal. The season-ending injury limited him to just three snaps in 2017. However, the idea of making a significant financial investment in a receiver who spent nearly an entire season on injured reserve could be the reason the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing him to test the market in the first place.
Performance Before 2017
Stats: 42 games (40 starts), 201 catches, 2,831 yards, 22 touchdowns, 14.1 yards per catch
Per 16-game average: 77 catches, 1,078 yards, eight touchdowns
Pro Football Focus grades: 74.9 (2016), 87.5 (2015), 74.8 (2014)
Robinson’s highest-graded season came in 2015 with an 87.5 that came up just short of jumping into the “elite” category of PFF’s receivers. That’s the season in which he started all 16 games, caught 80 passes, gained 1,400 receiving yards, scored 14 touchdowns, and went to the Pro Bowl. Only two other players have gained 1,400 receiving yards and scored at least 10 touchdowns in their age 22 season or younger – Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald … and Robinson makes three. As far as I’m concerned, that’s some pretty good company Robinson keeps here.
Overall, Robinson has been a reliable, respectable, and professional wide receiver. And even though he suffered through an “off” year in 2016 as Blake Bortles struggled with his accuracy, Robinson still hauled in 73 catches, gained 883 yards, and scored six touchdowns. Those numbers would have made him the Bears’ No. 1 receiver, by far.
In The End …
What makes Robinson stand out as a receiver is his ability to stretch the field vertically as an outside receiver and make a big play:
Allen Robinson was dominant on deep balls in 2015! pic.twitter.com/fFH2WxzLjb
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 5, 2018
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky excelled as a deep-ball thrower by PFF’s standards, even though he didn’t throw it as often as any of us would have liked. Trubisky’s 108.1 deep-throw ranking was the fourth best among qualifying NFL quarterbacks, while the percentage of turnover-worthy throws (3.1%) checked in at 14th. Combining the ability to connect on deep passes while limiting turnovers could lift Trubisky to another level … if he had someone lined up on the outside who he could count on.
Of all the receivers available in free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft, Robinson fits the bill perfectly here.
If Robinson is healthy (and by his account, his ACL “isn’t an issue”) then he can step onto the Bears’ roster and instantly become the much-needed No. 1 receiver the offense needs to move in the right direction. This isn’t to say there isn’t risk in bringing him into the mix, and entering camp with three receivers coming off season-ending injuries is less than ideal. However, the Bears are in a place where they can take a risk on a player with Robinson’s upside.