As it turns out, the free agent market could have some high-end wide receiver talent after all.
In Monday’s “10 thoughts on the Bears…” column, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune hears that Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams) will not be given the franchise tag by their respective teams. Well, then.
The deadline to designate a franchise player (or offer the transition tag) is 3 p.m. on Tuesday, but neither getting the tag would result in both entering free agency and could leave the Chicago Bears with some top tier talents to pursue in their attempt to rebuild their wide receivers room.
After fumbling away free agency in 2017, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has a chance at redemption. Pace and the Bears have their eyes set on providing quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the kind of potent offensive weapons that will make his attempt at taking the second-year leap like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz before him.
Chicago is armed with boatloads of cap space (an estimated $80.3 million as of this post) and motivated by erasing the memories of last year’s poor free agent crop. That the Bears could have a pair of options like top-shelf options like Robinson and Watkins, plus the possibility of a trade for Jarvis Landry, and the potential to draft a receiver like Calvin Ridley will only work in the team’s favor as Pace goes about rebuilding the offense.
It probably won’t stop there, either.
Sources indicate to the folks at RosterWatch that the Bears will be in the hunt for two free agent wide receivers, with one likely being Kansas City Chiefs free agent Albert Wilson. A league source also shared with the site that the expectation was that the Jaguars were going to retain wide receiver Marqise Lee instead of Robinson. That would vibe with recent reports that Jacksonville would opt to prioritize receivers at a lower price tag rather than pony up the big bucks for Robinson. This isn’t to say the Jaguars don’t like Robinson or wouldn’t like him back, but the team has other needs and clearly value a receiver coming off a season-ending ACL injury differently than we might have previously believed.
The Rams were expected to deploy the tag to keep Watkins earlier in the offseason, but their priorities might have shifted to give the tag to safety Lamarcus Joyner after acquiring cornerback Marcus Peters from the Chiefs in a deal that had Bears implications aplenty. And while Los Angeles would surely like to keep Watkins, the team isn’t short on pass catching options. With that in mind, the Bears have already popped up as a team who could pursue Watkins should he hit free agency.
The legal tampering period begins a week from today, so it’s only right the market is beginning to take shape. And if Robinson and Watkins make it to unrestricted free agency, the Bears should have no excuses not to land multiple pass-catching options this offseason.