Ryan Poles inherits a problematic situation as the new Chicago Bears GM. He wasn’t here when wide receiver Allen Robinson saw his relationship with the previous regime turn icy over a contract standoff. Ryan Pace wasn’t willing to pay him upwards of $18-20 million that he felt he was worth. Then Robinson hinted that the coaching staff even tried to sabotage him by reducing his number of targets during the 2021 season.
Most believe the chances of him returning at this point are negligible. The receiver may wish for a fresh start elsewhere. That said, there are reasons to think Poles might work to change his mind. Believe it or not, the young GM has seen this situation before. In 2012, Dwayne Bowe was coming off his second straight 1,000 yard season for the Kansas City Chiefs. He’d made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and expected a new contract. Rather than do that, the regime elected to franchise tag him instead.
Sound familiar? It is almost the exact same scenario Robinson saw play out.
Bowe ended up signing the tender and struggled that subsequent season, going for 801 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs bottomed out at 2-14, ushering in a regime change. That offseason, the common prediction was new GM John Dorsey would allow the receiver to enter free agency. After all, he was disgruntled and wasn’t somebody that the new regime had drafted. However, to many’s surprise, the Chiefs chose to give him a five-year deal instead.
People couldn’t understand the reasoning at the time. In truth, it was simple. Kansas City wasn’t exactly deep at wide receiver. Their only other options of note on the roster at the time were A.J. Jenkins and Dexter McCluster. Jenkins looked rough as a rookie the year prior, and McCluster was more of a gadget player. The offense needed somebody reliable. Thus Bowe ended up getting his money.
Ryan Poles likely views the Robinson situation the same way
It isn’t just the fact that the receiver is still pretty good. The cold reality is that the position is razor thin for Chicago if he leaves. Darnell Mooney is the only viable target under contract at the moment. Dazz Newsome, Isaiah Coulter, and Nsimba Webster are little more than depth pieces. Keeping Robinson would maintain a viable 1-2 punch for Justin Fields at the receiver position. Remember, he is still just 27-years old.
Bowe was 29 when he finally got his money. Was the payday worth it for Kansas City? Yes and no. Bowe never regained the dominant form he showed in 2010 and 2011. That said, he was the best receiver they had for two years. That allowed the Chiefs to focus resources on other critical areas like the offensive line (Eric Fisher) and tight end (Travis Kelce). Ryan Poles could look to do the same.
What this comes down to is whether Robinson is willing to listen.
He’s said he would love to stay in Chicago but there may be too many hurt feelings. Enough to where he isn’t interested in hearing any proposal from the new regime. If Poles intends to follow the Bowe blueprint, it will come down to his communication skills and how much money he’s willing to spend.
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