According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, armed with roughly $40.5M of projected available team salary cap space, the Indianapolis Colts are a speculated top suitor for Chicago Bears soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Allen Robinson—with league execs weighing in during the piece:
“Robinson’s days in Chicago are likely over, as both sides are ready to move on,” writes Fowler. “The Indianapolis Colts rarely spend big in free agency, but they appear intent on addressing needs this offseason after the Week 18 meltdown in Jacksonville. Robinson is a good fit there if Indy is willing to spend.”
Having battled through COVID-19—where he lost nearly 10 pounds, and the inconsistent play from the Bears starting quarterback position, Robinson had a down season in 2021 from his usually very high standards. He recorded just 38 receptions for 410 receiving yards (10.8 ypr. avg.) and a touchdown reception during 12 games (11 starts) this past season:
Bottom-five players in catchable target rate among 101 dudes with 25+ targets this season (PFF)— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 27, 2021
Elijah Moore (42%)
Robby Anderson (55%)
Odell Beckham (56%)
Kenny Golladay (60%)
Allen Robinson (63%)
However, he’s still only 28 years old, and when fully healthy, he’s a season removed from 102 receptions, 1,250 receiving yards (12.3 ypr. avg.), and 6 touchdown receptions during 16 starts with the Bears in 2020.
For what it’s worth, the Colts, under general manager Chris Ballard, have previously expressed interest in Robinson in the past during the 2018 offseason when he was an unrestricted free agent the last go-around.
I have not been shy about my belief that the Colts should sign Robinson in the past—as most recently as last offseason, before the Bears slapped him with the franchise tag and effectively eliminated any such chance—as he had some elite receiving stats coming off his standout 2020 campaign (that are worth looking at again).
At a listed 6’2”, 220 pounds, Robinson is another bigger wide receiver to pair with the already big bodied Michael Pittman Jr. (6’4”, 223 pounds) along the outside.
While one could make the reasonable argument that the Colts could use more of a fast, deep threat to stretch the field as a complement to Pittman Jr., I think that’s largely semantics.
The Colts need another playmaking receiver who can consistently get open and make tough contested catches in big moments to help move the sticks, sustain scoring drives, and/or score touchdowns. It’s not as though Robinson isn’t a productive downfield threat either.
Some of his underlying receiving stats, even after a down season, were still remarkable:
Allen Robinson has not dropped a pass beyond 20+ yards downfield since 2016 pic.twitter.com/40oG0cMLTh— PFF (@PFF) September 8, 2021
Allen Robinson hasn’t dropped a red zone target since Week 6 of 2016 pic.twitter.com/QoFi1FczPE— PFF (@PFF) November 2, 2021
Allen Robinson: 71 contested catches since 2018— PFF (@PFF) January 20, 2022
Most among WRs pic.twitter.com/gQfLHrXcuf
After all, this is the only NFL team in 2021, who had just one receiver eclipse the 400 yard receiving mark, Pittman Jr., as no one else accomplished such a feat this past year.
After an embarrassing late season collapse, team owner Jim Irsay is clearly fired up and wants to score more points offensively:
You can see,clear as day,in The Final 8 NFL Team Playoffs…you need a QB and Offense,who can score 30 or more in Regulation…and a Defense that can hold an opponent under 30!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 25, 2022
Robinson’s numbers were down, but some of those things, namely COVID-19 and shaky starting quarterback play certainly contributed. It could theoretically help him come at a slight discount to the Colts in free agency—although Spotrac still projects him to be paid quite handsomely on a 4-year, $65.5M deal as his projected calculated market value.
This isn’t former great Andre Johnson, in the twilight of his playing career, potentially coming to the Colts at age 34. Entering his 9th NFL season, Robinson should still have plenty of gas left in the tank to remain one of the league’s most productive wideouts.
It also helps that Robinson blocks:
One of my favorite plays of the bears' season, why?— Filip (@ApolloPP14) January 13, 2020
Look at the effort by #12 WR @AllenRobinson
He makes a key seal out block, selling himself out for the success of his team.
Sadly, the Bears lost the game, but Robinson was one of the reasons we stayed in the game. pic.twitter.com/FAKpFHykf3
Credit to the Bears’ blocking on Darnell Mooney’s touchdown. Anthony Miller took his matchup out of the play. Allen Robinson drove Keion Crossen eight yards and nearly into the end zone. pic.twitter.com/EbJhuZ3PkX— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) December 13, 2020
Rest assured, for a team that currently deploys two tenacious blockers along the outside, Pittman Jr. and the overly physical Zach Pascal, if Ballard is going to finally splurge on a top free agent wideout, he’s going to have to block at a high level—on a team that’s built around an oftentimes dominant ground game with Jonathan Taylor. Both Pittman Jr. and Pascal helped spring some big runs on the outside for Taylor—as unheralded blocking heroes.
Yes, starting quarterback remains the biggest question mark for the Colts, but it doesn’t matter even if Aaron Rodgers or Carson Wentz is playing starting quarterback, because Indianapolis still needs another dynamic playmaker at either wide receiver or tight end.
It’s a receiving corps that simply needs more juice offensively.
Robinson doesn’t come without some slight question marks after a disappointing 2021 season, but he would be a significant upgrade for the Colts at starting wide receiver regardless with a really impressive track record of consistent success—with presumably a handful of elite seasons still yet to come.
His speculated signing simply makes logical sense for Indianapolis.