Hearing The Cure’s “Friday, I’m in Love” on a Friday morning always puts me in a good mental space.
• I’m not wholly convinced Allen Robinson II was frozen out of the game plan. But the data here suggests otherwise:
Allen Robinson was not part of the Bears gameplan this season 😬 pic.twitter.com/V3oNrloxPx
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) February 17, 2022
• More than that, I think Robinson himself believes it. And so does one of his former teammates:
Maybe I was right lol https://t.co/C5brDznIAQ
— Anthony Miller (@AnthonyMiller_3) February 16, 2022
• Anecdotally, Robinson has legitimate beef. He saw a significant decline in targets, which led to a major drop in production. But I struggle to come to a place where a coaching staff that was so incompetent in doing anything was suddenly able to mastermind a sabotage plan out of thin air.
• Had the Bears kept with the status quo, this would worry me. Even if it is solely from a narrative perspective. You don’t want your team to have the reputation of freezing out good players during contract years. That’s bad football karma and that stuff always comes back to bite. But having a new GM, new coaches, and coordinators in place puts me at ease. Robinson likely won’t be back in Chicago, but at least this can’t be used against the Bears in free agency when targeting other receivers.
• As for Robinson’s options, he’ll likely have some good choices to pick from:
Which team should sign Allen Robinson in free agency? pic.twitter.com/zRXOP6ORBr
— PFF (@PFF) February 18, 2022
• Speaking of receivers on the cusp of free agency, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox shares a list of 25-and-under players who are about to hit the market. Among them, a handful of notable pass catchers. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Christian Kirk headline the list as top receiver targets who are about to get second (and in the case of JuJu, a third) contracts and are still really young on the football age scale. Also on the list is Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (who we touched on as a plausible Bears target yesterday), while receiver D.J. Chark Jr. and tight end David Njoku are on the outside looking in on the top-10. I can’t help but think about how the Bears have suitable options to replace Robinson in free agency. And in a more cost efficient manner.
• Robinson made $18 million in 2021 while playing on the franchise tag. And if he got it this year, the number would be in the $22 million range. Meanwhile, check out these PFF projections for some alternatives (average annual value in parenthesis):
⇒ D.J. Chark Jr., 3/$13.33M
⇒ Dalton Schultz, 4/$13M
⇒ Christian Kirk, 3/$11.67M
⇒ JuJu Smith-Schuster, 1/$8M
• This isn’t about saving money for the sake of stashing it away. Instead, look at it as a way of re-allocating funds to fill a multitude of needs. Think about it. The Bears could sign the two players with largest projections above and come out about even when comparing what they’d spend on tagging Robinson. If there is one thing the Bears could do better with a new regime is spend smarter in free agency. And I imagine this is the kind of situation Poles had in mind when he said the team was going to “connect evaluation with valuation” while being “selective” in free agency.
• Scott Pioli, who brought in Poles when he took over in Kansas City, shares some background with Jarrett Payton:
#Bears GM Ryan Poles was one of the 1st guys @scottpioli51 hired in KC. Even when Scott overloaded him w/ work, he stayed even-keeled. After Pioli was fired, Poles ALWAYS kept in-touch. Watch my full interview w/ Scott tonight at 10:30pm on @GNSportsTV. @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/qmiYIZmAUG
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) February 18, 2022
• You can get a full scope of their conversation here.
• A delightful thread from Johnathan Wood, who underscores how Ryan Pace never learned from his mistakes with Mitchell Trubisky as he went about replacing him with Justin Fields as the franchise’s latest hope to become a franchise quarterback:
It's really remarkable that Ryan Pace learned absolutely nothing from how badly he mismanaged Mitchell Trubisky through the first year of his career. He literally repeated every single mistake with Justin Fields.
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) February 17, 2022
• More from J-Wood, who dives through the data to unearth how Fields’ performance evolved as the season went on. There’s been some good stuff in this series.
• Considering how becoming the Rams offensive coordinator is a fast track to a head-coaching gig these days, this seems to be an important interview for former Bears RBs Coach Charles London:
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) February 18, 2022
• Other things happening around the league:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) February 18, 2022
• Well, that’s lame:
BREAKING: The College Football Playoff will stay at four teams through the duration of its current contract, source tells @TheAthletic. No expanded field until 2026 at the earliest.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 18, 2022
• With each passing year, I find myself feeling like the College Football Playoff is more about generating ratings and revenue by pitting four high-profile football powerhouse schools against each other than it is about finding a champion in a tournament setting.
• As a reminder, college football is B1G business:
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 17, 2022
• This is what leadership from the coach looks like. Here’s hoping Matt Eberflus can have the same level of impact Billy Donovan is having with the Bulls:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 17, 2022
• Hot mic alert:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) February 18, 2022
• What a concept! Why didn’t anyone think to do this earlier?
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 18, 2022
• Don’t forget, mobile sportsbook registration is finally returning to Illinois in two weeks. You can pre-register here at FanDuel for an extra $100 bonus, just for signing up.