Loaded with $65.1M of projected cap space, the Indianapolis Colts have the potential to make a consecutive offseason of splashes.
While the team has some imminent contract extensions with Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, and Quenton Nelson coming up, the franchise could still make a significant free agent signing or two this offseason.
Enter 27 year old Chicago Bears free agent wideout Allen Robinson, who the Colts know all too well as a familiar face from his prior tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars—previously covering him twice a season in the AFC South (and even playing him this past season with the Chicago Bears).
Robinson is coming off another highly productive season with the Bears, in which he caught 102 receptions for 1,250 receiving yards (12.3 ypr. avg.) and 6 touchdown receptions during all 16 starts in 2020.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Robinson was their 5th best graded wide receiver with a +88.3 overall grade during 2020.
The scary thing about Robinson is that he’s largely never had consistent competent starting quarterback play either—having suffered through the likes of Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, and Nick Foles throughout his 7-year pro career—and might be looking to leave the Windy City entirely because of it:
Since entering the league, only 64.0% of Allen Robinson's targets have been deemed catchable.— PFF (@PFF) January 12, 2021
That ranks 93rd out of 101 qualifiers pic.twitter.com/vFtZvo7itq
Now that could also be a tough sell for Robinson joining the Colts too, as with Philip Rivers’ recent retirement, the team’s starting quarterback position isn’t settled yet—although there are still some dynamic/upgraded veteran options potentially available in a trade (maybe the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford?).
Whatever the case may be, Robinson is a certified game-wrecker and would provide the Colts a top playmaker to instantly become their undisputed ‘#1 wideout’—featuring smooth route running, sure hands, impressive body control, and the dazzling ability to make highlight reel snags/acrobatic touchdowns downfield—as a contested catch wizard:
Bears WR Allen Robinson is now scheduled to head into free agency at the age of 27. Over his past two seasons, he has 200 catches for 2,397 yards and 13 TD.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 11, 2021
He has a nasty skillset of route running, contest catch making and red zone prowess seen in these plays below. pic.twitter.com/NtLJZ6cz6S
Allen Robinson has 49 contested catches in the last 2 seasons— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 19, 2021
Most in the NFL pic.twitter.com/pnKN2dkX4c
Most targets with only 1 drop (postseason included):— PFF (@PFF) January 19, 2021
1. Allen Robinson II - 157
2. Davante Adams - 156
3. DeAndre Hopkins - 154 pic.twitter.com/0hKgw1CE2L
Allen Robinson since 2019— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 16, 2021
4 drops pic.twitter.com/x7xm5XAw4G
Of course, the Colts could use more big-play ability and another dynamic receiver within their offense—as the unit lacks an elite, high-end talent at either wideout or tight end right now (although graduating rookie Michael Pittman Jr. could continue to develop into one in time).
There’s no one right now that opposing secondaries have to consistently double team in coverage, game plan for, or that the Colts can throw a critical pass to, to move the sticks or score—even when the receiver is well covered, knowing that there’s still a good shot that he’ll catch it for the first down or touchdown.
There’s no one to trust that they’ll ‘get open’—even when they’re actually not—if you catch my drift.
Colts’ 31 year old wideout T.Y. Hilton has presumably lost a half-step and is set to become a free agent. While if re-signed, Hilton can still be a productive veteran weapon for the Colts, he might be transitioning to more of a #2 or #3 wide receiver option for the team going forward. There’s no shame in that, father time catches up with everyone eventually, and he remains an all-time Colts franchise great regardless.
That being said, the team doesn’t have many explosive game-changers on offense otherwise among their receivers downfield. Zach Pascal is a solid wideout and a strong perimeter blocker, but isn’t someone who’s going to routinely stretch the field offensively.
Meanwhile, the Colts projected deep threat, 2nd-year pro Parris Campbell, has been largely limited with injuries over the past two seasons, and it may be unwise for the Colts to firmly count on him again for their prominent field-stretching role. Campbell shouldn’t be counted out, but the Colts shouldn’t solely count on him either given his lingering durability issues.
Simply put, Robinson gives the Colts ‘a dawg’ offensively out there.
A consistent elite receiving threat to help match up with some of the Tyreek Hills, Travis Kelces, and Stefon Diggs that the AFC’s Super Bowl contenders are currently deploying.
A mismatch nightmare in his prime for opposing secondaries to attempt to cover.
While a number of big free agent names will be tossed around for the Colts this offseason, Robinson should rightfully be among the ones at or near the top of any and every wish list.