Yes, that Allen Robinson. The same one who caught 80 passes for 1,4000 yards and 14 touchdowns in a Jaguars' uniform back in 2015. The same one who got offered a raw deal after suffering a torn ACL by Tom Coughlin and company in 2017. The same one who caught over 200 passes for the Bears the last two seasons.
Allen Robinson, who is 27 years old and entering the prime of his career, is set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent next month. The Bears have been unable to negotiate an amenable new deal with Robinson, and he wants to cash in and gain some long-term security. The Bears could use the tag on Robinson, but it's unlikely that will go over well with A-Rob. That could lead to a hold out, which could lead to Chicago being forced to trade Robinson. In that case, this situation could drag out well beyond free agency and the draft.
In a radio interview on ESPN690, Allen Robinson told Brent Martineau and Austen Lane that he wouldn't rule out returning to Jacksonville and acknowledged things are different in Jax now. Robinson said he wouldn't rule out anything and nothing was off the table. The talented receiver mentioned wanting to sign with a team that would be playing meaningful games in December and January, but we all know that money talks in free agency.
And the Jaguars just so happen to have a boatload of money to spend in free agency this offseason.
This all begs the question, should the Jaguars pursue Allen Robinson if he becomes available?
The answer is a resounding yes. "But what about DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault?" Indeed, what about them? They're both fine young players, but in today's NFL, as evidenced by the final two teams standing, a roster needs to have a handful of top-flight pass-catching options. Adding Allen Robinson to the mix in Jacksonville would give the Jaguars three uber-talented receivers and would provide Chark and Shenault a mentor of sorts. He'd also present Trevor Lawrence with a target that can win on the outside, in the slot, with precise routes, and with physicality. The Jaguars could use the draft to supplement their receiver room, but there's no-one in the draft that will have the impact on this team over the next couple of years that Allen Robinson will.
Of course, there's the issue of cost. But few teams are so well positioned to offer Allen Robinson the kind of contract he deserves. According to Spotrac, Robinson's market value is $20M per year. The Jaguars could afford him at that price with no difficulty, even with a reduced salary cap. Jaguars' GM Trent Baalke and head coach Urban Meyer would still have plenty of wiggle room to sign other plus starters in free agency too. But in a year like 2021, with a reduced cap, players might find that they're not going to earn market value, which could enable the Jaguars to land Robinson for even less.
I don't feel that Urban Meyer will go about rebuilding the Jaguars with patience, so landing an elite receiver to help Trevor Lawrence and the offense is an easy decision. During Trent Baalke's time in San Francisco, he didn't often spend big money in free agency, but the 49ers were rarely in a healthy cap situation. Thanks to the work that former Jaguars' GM Dave Caldwell did before his firing, Baalke and Meyer are in position to land whoever they want this offseason.
There are undoubtedly other quality receivers set to hit the market. The list is impressive — Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, and Curtis Samuel headline the class. But none of those players are as complete or as promising as Allen Robinson, who has found success in the NFL despite dealing with subpar QB play throughout his career. Golladay is a solid number one, but he doesn't have the polish or versatility that Robinson provides. Godwin is a slot extraordinaire, but again, isn't nearly as impressive as A-Rob. Fuller is oft-injured, and Curtis Samuel is more of a chess piece than a proper receiver.
Allen Robinson seems open to the idea of returning to Jacksonville, and the Jaguars should be flattered. More importantly, they should pounce.
What a glorious reunion it would be.
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