Players who agreed to terms during the legal tampering negotiating period can start signing contracts at 3 p.m. today. Good luck internalizing your excitement.
- Waking up to news of Allen Robinson committing to the Bears in free agency must have felt like Christmas morning to some Bears fans yesterday. However, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated doesn’t come off as impressed with the move and gives it a C+ grade. Orr has concerns about quarterback Mitch Trubisky (“the least exciting destination for a free agent receiver” among quarterbacks drafted in 2017) and Robinson’s recovery from injury. It’s a bold stance to take at this stage of the offseason, but there is more to feel good about than there is to be pessimistic about regarding the Bears’ newest No.1 receiver.
- One person on the other side of the opinion aisle would be ESPN fantasy sports writer Mike Clay, who shared an early projection of Robinson’s numbers in Year 1 with the Bears:
Early Bears WR Allen Robinson projection: 141 targets, 75 receptions, 1,053 yards, 7 TD
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 13, 2018
- Using Pro Football Reference’s play index, let’s take a look at a list of Bears wide receivers who have hauled in 75 catches, gained more than 1,000 receiving yards, and scored at least seven touchdowns: Alshon Jeffery (2013, 2014), Brandon Marshall (2012, 2013), Marty Booker (2001), Marcus Robinson (1999), and Curtis Conway (1996). That’s it. Five names have combined to put up those numbers in the last 50 years of Bears football.
- Here’s another fun fact regarding that group of numbers: Just five receivers (Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins) and one tight end (Travis Kelce, because of course…) put up similar numbers to Robinson’s projections. And seeing a pair of Kansas City Chiefs players among that group should have you feeling good about Trubisky’s newest pass-catching target.
- It would be great to see Robinson (or any Bears receiver for that matter) make Matt Harmon’s list of best deep-threat wide receivers of 2018. Alas, no Bears made the cut, but Chiefs stud Tyreek Hill was The Man when it came to the deep ball. Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come from the Bears’ offense.
- While ESPN’s Kevin Seifert believes the Green Bay Packers (grumble) had the best day on Tuesday, teammates Matt Bowen and Field Yates believe the Bears are the big winners. Bowen thinks highly of the aggressive moves to add playmakers that lacked them in 2017. Yates sees the team’s investment in talent (and coaching) on the offensive side of the ball makes that unit a focal point of success moving forward. It’s clear the Bears are doing everything in their power to put Trubisky in the best situation to make the second-year leap like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz before him.
- Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune thinks Robinson is a fine addition, but would have rather seen the Bears sign Sammy Watkins – who ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Citing health concerns and Watkins’ top-end speed that could take the top off an opposing defense, Rosenbloom believes Watkins would have been a better fit for the Bears’ offense. I can vibe with Rosenbloom’s angle, but it’s not like Robinson (when healthy) is a slouch in that department. Robinson doesn’t have Watkins’ blazing speed. Few players do, but he does have his own history of stretching a defense vertically, which should play right into the hands of the Bears’ offensive strengths in 2018.
- I bet Mike Glennon would have liked to throw to some of these targets. Tiffany Blackmon of the NFL Network reports Glennon will sign a deal with the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday once his release from the Bears is finalized. He’ll join the Cardinals as a backup plan behind Sam Bradford.
- One last nugget from Clay, because there is something to be drawn from fantasy and applied to reality:
Trey Burton to the Bears is not good for the potential emergence of 2017 2nd rounder Adam Shaheen – Burton figures to be the primary receiving TE after signing such a lucrative deal
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 13, 2018
- To be fair, offensive sets with two tight ends can be common and the Bears certainly used enough of them in 2017 while mixing-and-matching with Dion Sims, Zach Miller, Daniel Brown, and Shaheen. But if you were expecting Shaheen to see him on the field on nearly 85 percent of offensive snaps, now seems like a good time to start adjusting your expectations.
- Noteworthy nugget: Demetrius Harris, the Chiefs’ No. 2 tight end in 2017, played on 46.4 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last season – or nearly double the percentage of snaps Shaheen played (24.2%).
- If you backed me into a corner and forced me to project the playing time split between Burton and Shaheen, I would guess Burton would see the field between 60-70 percent of the time and Shaheen getting in on somewhere between 40-50 percent.
- Over at our sister site Baseball is Fun, you can watch Burton re-create the Super Bowl trick play his old team stole from the Bears’ playbook while throwing out the first pitch at a Phillies spring training game. No word if he used Jake Arrieta’s cutter grip.
- I always like looking at newspaper front pages when big news happens because I’m still a junkie:
— Mike Sansone (@TheMikeSansone) March 14, 2018
- Shoutout to the designer who plucked this picture of making a catch over the out-stretched arms of a Packers defender. In Robinson’s only game against the Packers, he caught six passes for 72 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown, so his next touchdown against Green Bay will be his first … and we can’t wait to see it!
Our @suntimes_sports Wednesday cover: The #Bears are poised to make big splash when #NFL free agency opens today. Our experts break down the team's moves: @AdamJahns: https://t.co/J9gib9MrHl@PatrickFinley: https://t.co/uWF7rtWQYz@MarkPotash: https://t.co/zKfY5Iiju8 pic.twitter.com/h2dcHGcfje
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) March 14, 2018