FA Landing Spots: Allen Robinson
There will be some big name receivers potentially hitting the open market this off-season looking for a new home. A lot can still change roster-wise for many teams going into the 2021 season. Team needs may change. Over the future articles, we will evaluate some top free agents, potential landing spots, and what teams could even afford them?
2020 Current Team - Chicago Bears
2020 Stats: 102 catches / 151 targets / 1250 yards / 6 touchdowns
Robinson is a stellar receiver who hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to the quarterbacks. In his years with the Jaguars his starting QB was Blake Bortles and when he moved to Chicago he had a combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. Robinson will be entering his 8th year in the league, and during this time, on only two occasions have his quarterbacks finished in the top 10 (Bortles 2015 finished 4th and 2016 finished 9th in QB scoring). Robinson is currently getting paid as the 17th best receiver in the league; he has finished as the 8th and 9th full PPR receiver over his time with the Bears, yet is not paid as a high-end WR. Rumour is that he is looking for a contract similar to the guys at the top of the tree.
Where Could He End Up?
First of all, there is still a chance Robinson could stay in Chicago. This would likely take a franchise tag to make this happen which has been rumored. Whether this is a short-term deal in order to facilitate a trade to another franchise is unclear. To keep him in Chicago this would also take adding pieces to the offense including a QB. There is talk about adding a quarterback in a trade but even this is unlikely to be enough to keep Robinson around long term, even if he plays on with the tag for the 2021 season.
New York Jets
When the Jets won two games towards the end of the regular season they may have cost themselves the opportunity at the number 1 pick in the 2021 draft, however they are still likely to use the 2nd overall pick to select a quarterback. If this is the way they go at the draft then to continue the rebuild they will need to give their new signal-caller some help to improve their fortunes. Their receiving room needs help as we can from the below table.
Breshad Perriman is an unrestricted free agent this off-season and there is some talk of Jamison Crowder being cut to open up a further $10 million in cap space. If both players leave New York, this would leave the Jets without their top two receivers from 2020. Even if they do not release Crowder they would be sitting with a projected $68.7 million in cap space so could comfortably make a move on one of the high-profile free agent receivers with plenty of space remaining to add in other places. Robinson finished the season in Chicago with just 21 fewer catches than the top 3 Jets receivers combined so he would be the unquestioned top target should he sign there.
Similar to the Jets, there is a substantial amount of cap space available with it sitting at just over $69 million in projected space. Also similarly to the Jets, there is space for improvement when it comes to the receiving output. Below are the top 6 yardage leaders for the Colts and two out of these were running backs and we could in fact go to the top 10 to include a third RB with Jordan Wilkins finishing with 105 yards for the teams' 10th position.
Now a lot of this usage and short-yardage completions could be attributed to Philip Rivers. It was clear he did not have the arm strength to launch the ball downfield. Rivers has since announced his retirement from the game so there was an opening at starting QB until Carson Wentz was added in a trade with the Eagles for a 2021 3rd round pick and a 2022 conditional 2nd rounder this week. The Colts clearly have hopes for Wentz to repeat his early NFL form and his addition from Philly paired with adding an elite wideout would be interesting. Hilton is an (unrestricted) free agent as is Pascal (restricted) although it does sound as if Pascal may return and Hilton is yet an unknown. Parris Campbell will return from the trainer’s room to help the team but they arguably are still without a true number one. Robinson could help the Colts take the next step and become a true contender.
Washington Football Team
Washington could be an interesting landing spot for Robinson. They made the playoffs, albeit out of a pretty poor division, losing out to eventual Super Bowl champs, Tampa Bay, and if they want to repeat then adding pieces like Robinson could help them do so. Unlike the two teams discussed thus far, Washington has a receiver who had a great 2020 season in Terry McLaurin, he posted an impressive 1118 yards from 87 catches. Adding Robinson to an offense that already boasts some excellent weapons such as McLaurin, Gibson, and Thomas would be intriguing.
McLaurin was the unquestioned number one receiver in this offense, he had 49.5% of the team’s wide receivers receiving yards so it is clear he needs help. Cam Sims is a restricted free agent going into 2021 so it is unclear whether or not he will return as is Robert Foster, however, if they were to return this wouldn’t take much away from the salary cap. If Robinson was to be signed this would be a headache for opposition defensive coordinators, as they would be torn between whom to double team. Now, eventually, McLaurin will need to be paid so this could cut into the likely hood of signing Robinson to a longer-term deal.
New England Patriots
The Patriots haven’t paid a receiver $10million since Randy Moss in 2008 but this could (and probably should) be the year that changes. The cap space (projected around the $62million mark) would certainly allow them to bring in a top free-agent receiver as well as filling some other spots, such as bringing in a new quarterback either another free agent or potentially in the 2021 draft. They are in desperate need of help at the wide-out position after a very underwhelming year from their current group. Yes, the loss of Julian Edelman to injury did not help, but no one really stepped up on a consistent basis to fill this void. The blame does not all land on the doormat of the receiver's room completely, however, as bad quarterback play was also a big factor in the team’s poor outing during the 2020 season.
Whoever takes the lead at quarterback, will find themselves without a true red-zone target. The Patriot wide receivers only put up 4 total touchdowns and were outscored by the running backs and fullbacks who ended with 6 receiving TD’s. Another worrying stat is that Julian Edelman finished with the team’s 3rd most receiving yards despite only playing 6 games. The Patriots have a number of receiving options who may hit free agency. James White and Rex Burkhead formed a big part of the offense in 2020 as well as in previous years. There is obviously a chance that one or both return to the team but James White especially might want to test free agency. There are a number of wideouts that are also hitting the open market; Damiere Byrd was the most productive of this group. The Patriots could bring him back as a depth piece however they need a big-time number one receiver to boost production.
Now, this would be a turn-up for the books. "Again, you know, at this point I pretty much would be open to everything on the table," The Jags have the most cap space of any team in the league with around $77million, so there is plenty room to move on a big-time free agent to help out a 1-16 team. The Jags are projected to take Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the draft and signing another wide receiver to help the change from college to the NFL could be a great move. The wide receiver core has some good pieces such as DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault already in place.
Chris Conley and Keelan Cole are free agents this offseason although with the amount of cap space the Jags hold it wouldn’t be an issue to bring them back for 2021. They are useful pieces that add depth to the receiving core, not only that but Conley was named a captain over the past two seasons. Now there is no doubt that Jacksonville has the space to offer Robinson the type of contract he will be looking for. The issue is that the Jags are in a rebuild which will take time, as well as being in a competitive division with playoff contenders, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts. Robinson recently posted on twitter ‘I want a ring’ during the Super Bowl. Now every player in the league wants a ring. The question for 27-year-old Robinson (28 before the new season kicks off) is how long is he willing to wait? If he signs with the Jags, this is likely to take a little longer.