Emma's Tailgater: Clock Is Ticking On Bears If They Want To Keep A Star In Allen Robinson

Robinson is frustrated by the lack of an extension as he works in a contract year.
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By 670 The Score

Editor's note: The Tailgater column has been updated to reflect the deal reached for Rams receiver Robert Woods on Friday.

(670 The Score) It shouldn't have come to all this for star receiver Allen Robinson and the Bears.

Yes, that's star receiver. It's what Robinson wants for recognition in the form of his next contract. He saw the Cowboys re-sign Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100-million deal in March. Then just before the regular season began, Robinson watched the Chargers extend Keenan Allen on a four-year, $80-million deal and the Cardinals hand DeAndre Hopkins a two-year deal worth $54.5 million.

Then came the four-year, $68-million deal agreed to Friday by Rams receiver Robert Woods. It would seem to set the floor for Robinson's negotiations at $17 million.

It's not clear what Robinson's party is demanding, but $20 million per season appears to be a benchmark in the negotiations. In recent days, he and his camp have openly acknowledged their frustration with the Bears for not already paying him like a star as Robinson works in the final season of his contract.

Is a once-positive marriage heading for divorce? Not yet, at least. But there sure is tension boiling.

There's still time for the Bears and Robinson to reach a long-term extension that pays him in the company of other star receivers and keeps him in Chicago for several years to come. Bears general manager Ryan Pace has preferred to conduct football business outside of the regular season, but that's not an option anymore if he wants to lock in Robinson, who's putting himself at risk each game he plays without a contract for 2021. And from their end, the Bears are at risk of pushing away and perhaps losing Robinson with each productive performance he puts forth without a long-term extension.

So, the clock is ticking. The dialogue that was supposed to be left at the bargaining table went public as Bears teammates took to social media Tuesday and offered their overwhelming support for Robinson getting paid. It seemed to pit players against management, though Bears coach Matt Nagy downplayed that and pointed to it as part of a culture of support among teammates.

Those developments came after Robinson's frustrations were made clear when he scrubbed his social media of all Bears-related images. His teammates then launched a campaign for him.

"He's deserving of an extension," said running back Tarik Cohen, who tweeted #ExtendAR on Tuesday afternoon. "He (embodies) the meaning of being a teammate, on and off the field. He's a great leader in the locker room. The team just wouldn't be the same without him, so I feel like it's necessary to get a deal done."

Robinson has every reason to want contract stability now. He suffered a torn ACL in a contract year in 2017 before signing with the Bears on a three-year, $42-million deal in March 2018. The Bears understand Robinson's importance and recognize what their inconsistent offense would be missing without him.

If the Bears really want Robinson beyond 2020, they'll have to pay him like a star. Otherwise, another team will.

Open Field: A class above?

Given the unprecedented circumstances of this past NFL offseason, it was supposed to be a crapshoot in scouting and drafting prospects. Even so, the Bears seem to have promise in their 2020 rookie class.

Jaylon Johnson, drafted at No. 50 overall in the second round, earned a starting cornerback job and asserted himself in a season-opening win. Cole Kmet, selected seven picks before Johnson in the second round, is ramping up toward a larger workload as the Bears' top Y tight end. Kmet's coaches have raved about his football intelligence.

Meanwhile, rookie receiver Darnell Mooney looks as if he could become a key part of Nagy's offense after being selected in the fifth round. Mooney was active in his first NFL game and proved he belongs -- not just because of his three catches but also because of polished route running and a natural poise.

"I showed them exactly what I can do," Mooney said this week.

Cornerback Kindle Vildor and pass rusher Trevis Gipson each flashed potential in camp that encouraged the Bears. Gipson first must add mass to his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame.

For now, the Bears will gladly take contributions from three rookies selected in the second and third days of a difficult draft. Credit goes to Pace and his staff if the rookie class continues to produce so early.

4-down territory

1.) Next up for Mitch
The Bears weren't going to let quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the offense feel complete satisfaction from an incomplete opening win in Detroit.

The offense was 0-for-8 on third-down conversions in the first half, and Trubisky was missing targets. Not much changed in the third quarter, with the Bears being shut out and facing a 17-point deficit.

Trubisky then produced some fourth-quarter heroics that led the Bears to a win, but what does it all mean in the grand scheme? For Nagy and the coaching staff, it was just one quarter of good football and three quarters that needed to be much better.

That's the focus for the Bears while hosting the Giants on Sunday.

"We want to put a complete game together here this weekend," Nagy said.

2.) Miller time
In the Bears' season opener in 2019, receiver Anthony Miller played just 15 snaps and had one target and zero receptions. In the season opener this past Sunday, Miller played a key role, catching four passes for 76 yards, including the go-ahead 27-yard score late in the fourth quarter.

The transformation of Miller came full circle between season openers and is reflective of the Bears' confidence in him.

"We all know the potential of Anthony Miller," wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. "I think we're just on that cusp now of really seeing his evolvement of what he'll really end up becoming."

3.) Stop the run
The Bears often spoke of how important nose tackle Eddie Goldman was to their defense. They're now seeing what it's like without him.

A 35-year-old Adrian Peterson gashed the Bears for 93 yards on 14 carries on Sunday, Chicago's first game since Goldman opted out of playing in 2020. Next up for the Bears is Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who presents a great challenge to a still configuring its run defense.

Barkley is coming off a poor performance Monday in which he rushed 15 times for six yards, but the Bears know what they're up against.

"He’ll run around you, run through you, got speed," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "Once he gets in the open field, he’ll take it the distance. He’s a great player. We’ve got our hands full."

4.) The opposing view
Rookie Giants coach Joe Judge received high praise from Nagy for how he prepared his team in a challenging offseason -- one that was even more difficult for those just starting out on a job.

“You look at this team you realize that this is a team that is well-coached," Nagy said. "All things considered, too, coming in with a first-year head coach, not having an offseason in-person -- I know looking back three years ago for me knowing how important that was.

"Coach Joe Judge has done is he has those guys believing in what they do. They’re playing fast right now, offensively, defensively, special-teams-wise. In one week they’ve already created an identity in my opinion, and I think that’s a credit to the way he coaches and his coaches around him."

Quote to note
"I just want to get there, get behind my pads and just run people over. That's really my type of game. I'm a bruising back. Y'all think of me as a shifty back. But in my heart of hearts, I'm a power back. I just have to show the world that."
--Bears running back Tarik Cohen, who's 5-foot-6 and 194 pounds

Injury report
OLB Robert Quinn (ankle) -- The 30-year-old Quinn has been limited in the Bears' practices this week. His status for Sunday may be determined with a game-time decision.

OLB Khalil Mack (knee) -- Just like last week, Mack is being limited in practice. But he should be ready to play.

Prediction (1-0): Bears 24, Giants 7
After an inconsistent performance in the opener, the Bears get a gift with the Giants coming to town. Look for all three phases to be better for the Bears.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.