WR Allen Robinson's Decision Came Down to Packers, Bears

-- Fortunes were very much in favor of the Green Bay Packers this month when they almost landed free agent wide receiver Allen Robinson.

According to Mike Kaye of FirstCoastNews.com, the former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver narrowed down his options between the Packers and Chicago Bears. Evidently, the benefits of playing closer to his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, outweighed that of finding a new home in Green Bay.

"With all things being equal, Chicago was a place I had my eyes on from a football standpoint," Robinson said, now a simple four-and-a-half-hour drive east on the I-94 away from home.

"It's a spot with a lot of benefits as far as it being close to home. The close-to-home thing was a very minimal factor but it was still a factor."

For years, the Packers have unintentionally banked their outside free agent interest in the fact that Aaron Rodgers is their quarterback. Having such a generational talent taking snaps under center could be a pretty significant motivator in persuading players to play for your organization.

It didn't come down to that for Robinson. Rather than getting the chance to catch passes from Rodgers and work with coach Mike McCarthy, he'll try to mesh with last year's second overall pick in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the newly-hired Matt Nagy.

"For me, going into the whole free agency process, Chicago was definitely a team I had my eye on, from the standpoint that they had just hired coach Matt Nagy.

"Coach Nagy was a big part of it. ... I'm a big fan of his system and his offense."

The Bears ended up giving Robinson a three-year, $42 million dollar deal -- something presumably similar to what the Packers would've offered.

Coincidentally, the $14 million Robinson will annually make in Chicago is the same number as the offer sheet matched by the Bears for their transition-tagged cornerback, Kyle Fuller, whom the Packers tried to steal earlier this month.

It could be simple serendipity, or the $14 million could be an indicator of just how much the Packers are willing to spend on a free agent. So far, they've signed tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Tramon Williams.

Still, they sit with $19.3 million in cap space. This is still with a potential extension for Rodgers on the horizon, which, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, could "handicap" the Packers in how they do business in free agency.

Adding Robinson to the Packers' receiving corps -- now sans Jordy Nelson -- would've been the ultimate lift to a group lacking another true perimeter threat outside of Davante Adams, whose uprising has been well-documented.

The Packers hosted former Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills receiver Jordan Matthews for a visit on Friday, which is somewhat of an indicator that they may at least address the receiver position in free agency before they draft one in the early rounds of April's draft.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (34)

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sheppercheeser's picture

March 26, 2018 at 09:31 am

Boy, hard to swallow that an NFL player would rather sign with Chicago than GB. Maybe he (Robinson) knows something we don't? I don't buy the "it's closer to home" reason- he could take the ferry across Lake Michigan to go home.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:10 am

"Robinson said, now a simple four-and-a-half-hour drive east on the I-94 away from home."

BS, it's almost exactly the same flight time. Why would he drive 4.5 hours when GRB has a 1:10 flight direct to Detroit daily? It's just an excuse to avoid saying he doesn't want to live in Green Bay. And honestly, if he's more about the City than the Football Team and Winning he'll fit right in the Chicago.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:43 am

Trubisky vs Rodgers?
What?

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Handsback's picture

March 26, 2018 at 09:36 am

What a BS statement from Robinson....I don't believe his statements for a second. He would rather play w/ a second year QB verses the best in the league? He would rather play for a last place team verses an annual playoff contender?

I suspect it was either a money issue or a small town issue. Matthews would be a good fit for much less money.
I still like Brice Butler who played for Dallas. I think he can be a great #3 or even a 2 if given the chance.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 26, 2018 at 11:18 am

Both. Chicago could pay him a lot more and let's call a spade what it is - it's still more difficult to fit in for a single 25 year old African American in Green Bay, WI, than it is in a world class large metropolitan city.

I suspect the tie would be that he could get home more quickly from Chicago. And whether or not we want to face it - it looks like Chicago's team is on the rise. They have a pretty good GM and a highly touted head coach. A strong defense. They're missing a few pieces, but if Mitch can attain franchise QB status, they're going to be good.

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Finwiz's picture

March 26, 2018 at 11:35 am

>let's call a spade what it is - it's still more difficult to fit in for a single 25 year old African American in Green Bay, WI<

Last time a poster here used that terminology (ahem), there was public castigation. I'd hate to think there's hypocrites among us.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 26, 2018 at 01:25 pm

Not from me....

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 26, 2018 at 03:44 pm

I think the actual problem your referring too was some persons claiming something derogatory about what the average African American Male thinks, specifically their attitude towards work. Saying they might not feel as at home in Green Bay as Chicago might be problematic but it's not derogatory.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 26, 2018 at 06:12 pm

This is borderline, as it can be taken two ways. I don't see this comment, however. Maybe it was deleted?

Regardless, if anyone plans to inhabit the comment section here. there will be no tolerance for hate speech, racism, sexism or any other forms of bigotry.

If someone can't figure out how to abide by the rules, they will be bounced. Plain and simple.

Thanks to everyone that gets it!

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Bert's picture

March 26, 2018 at 09:36 am

Robinson would have been a huge addition for sure. Lots of factors go into where these FAs ultimately land; $$, geography, coaching staff, system etc, etc. Still lots of time to upgrade the 2018 roster but one of these days Gute may have to decide between throwing everything he can at 2018 or taking a longer view.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:13 am

Who really thinks we were going to offer 14mil a year to Robinson? That would have been 38mil in WR money? I think Robinson got over paid.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 26, 2018 at 11:41 am

The timing of the signings should be noted. Robinson signed on March 15. Reports that GB was signing Graham and Wilkerson came out March 13 or so. Sounds like Gute wanted both Graham and Robinson, with Robinson as Nelson's direct replacement on the boundary and as a deep threat. [Edit: well, I guess that is unclear. Gute may have learned that Robinson preferred the bears' offer and then finalized his offer to Graham. Timing is very tight, and we can only speculate.]

Robinson's contract with Chicago calls for 3 yrs/$42M ($14M AAV), but he got a tiny signing bonus of $6M. He earns $15M in cash in year one through salary and roster bonuses, but his dead money for year two is only $4M, so there isn't a lot of dead money protecting year two earnings, and only $2M protects year three earnings. In other words, the contract sounded more impressive than it is. Cap savings in year two is $11M: anytime cap savings is that large, and any time the cap savings is about 3 times the dead money cap hit, that player is going to be a primary target as a cap casualty. And Chicago is a team that can easily absorb a $4M dead money hit. Obviously, GB's offer probably differed significantly in structure from Chicago's. Essentially, Robinson is on a one year deal for $15M with $4M dead with Chicago. Wonder what Gute offered? It was said to be competitive.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 26, 2018 at 04:12 pm

Interesting. So he is a one year rental (with a nice bonus upfront) with what amounts to a offer by the Bears to renegotiate if he plays well this season. I wonder if the upcoming CBA is effecting this years FA. Probably not, but this has been somewhat unusual from the normal FA year.

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worztik's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

If he feels that Chicago and “Detroit” are good places to live, we probably dodged a bullet by not signing him! Either of the two cities can rank #1 as being the armpit of all armpits... especially Detroit City!!!

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Cubbygold's picture

March 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm

City life isn't for everyone, but you can do a lot worse than Chicago

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Gianich's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:20 am

Bears had more cap room and $$ to offer. End of story.

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MITM's picture

March 26, 2018 at 03:22 pm

No question.

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stockholder's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:20 am

Watching the money thrown at these Wrs is sickening. The guy only had the intention of creating a market for his pockets. It's all about me and the money now. He's not special, and we need TEAM players. He won't make the hall of fame , and the money won't gain him respect. He'll be just a memory in two years. Thank you Gute for not signing him.

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Since&#039;61's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:55 am

Stockholder - Sportts have always been about me and the money. Sure they love the game and there are a few (very view) players who want to remain with or join a particular team of they can, but these players need to make as much money as they can as fast as they because their career could end on their next play.
As for winning and the Hall of Fame that's just gravy if it happens. It's show me the money now!
I remember when most NFL players made less than $10K per season and had to find regular jobs in the off season to make it through the year. The money is crazy now but the owners are willing to pay so the players take it and they should. Thsnks, Since '61

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croatpackfan's picture

March 28, 2018 at 08:53 am

You're right. A salesperson or an accountant, a nurse or a laborer do not have to earn money because they will live forever and have time to make enough money, little by little ... Their life and their career can not be cut off early ...

Players and other sports staff earn so much for one reason only ... They bring even bigger profits to team' owners and NFL. Who can sell more jerseys, more TV time, more stadium seats, ensure greater TV viewing will get a thicker (wealthier) contract ...

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Bearmeat's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:55 am

His reasoning is sound.

DAMN.

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Since&#039;61's picture

March 26, 2018 at 10:59 am

Bearmeat - Chicago has brighter lights and more media coverage than Green Bay. He can be the man there. In Green Bay he is second fiddle to Rodgers at best, maybe to Adams and Graham as well. Big money, big town, big action, etc. Thanks, Since '61

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Bert's picture

March 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

C'mon. Fretting and complaining why a guy chose the Bears or any other team over the Packers is a ridiculous waste of time. He made his own decision. Who cares? Move on..........

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jww061356's picture

March 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Agreed. When it starts to come down to bright lights and Big City, we're out. If he thinks the two are close--then he's not for us?

Oh, and BTW---who drives home to see his family in the NFL?

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Bert's picture

March 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Yep. Green Bay isn't for everybody and the organization itself may not be for everybody. Every team, city etc. is different. No big deal. To each his own.

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al bundy's picture

March 26, 2018 at 02:33 pm

Ya South Chicago is lovely during gun season

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Oppy's picture

March 27, 2018 at 10:16 am

Doesn't even make the top 25 US cities violent crime per capita list, despite being the 3rd largest city in the country, but whatever, I know the facts don't align with whatever agenda you've been force-fed.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 28, 2018 at 06:06 am

Rankings are dangerous. Chicago shows up at 25th on some for 2016, using FBI data. East St. Louis, Chester, PA, Camden, NJ, St. Louis, Gary, West Memphis, Baltimore, Flint, Detroit, and New Orleans might fill out the top 10, but by rankings these hellholes are only marginally worse than Chicago. Chicago's murder rate is still 500% higher than the US average, Rape is 50% higher, Robbery is 430% higher, and assault is 230% higher than the US average. #25 Chicago is safer than 8% of all US cities with a population over 25K, while #1 East St. Louis is safer than 6% of all such cities (yeah, that means there are some small cities that are really terrible). Rankings are dangerous. As a native Chicagoan, I've checked Chicago's crime stats since I have aunts and uncles still living there to keep an eye on where they are living.

I have 5 African-American nieces and nephews, 4 of whom are college age, and one who is about to be college aged. I gather that there are only a handful of places they like in downtown Milwaukee and on fringes of it, and they tend to be a little pricey for college-aged kids. The other ones they like tend to be in bad neighborhoods. I base the bad neighborhood thing on an incident last October: my nephew decided to save the cover charge on a downtown club and went elsewhere with my Brother's car, and got car-jacked at gunpoint. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt and the police even recovered my brother's car, though it had about $3,000 worth of damage in body work and such.

I have no idea what Allen Robinson's tastes might be, but it seems quite possible that Chicago has more upscale and safe to go to nightclubs that might please him than Milwaukee or Green Bay can boast. If he likes opera like I do, Chicago's symphony is excellent, and its museums, zoos, restaurants and shopping destinations are first rate as well.

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lou's picture

March 26, 2018 at 02:23 pm

Lets look back at the Bears history at WR, when was the last time they had a true #1 ? Jefferies had one year where he looked like a #1, also had injuries and suspensions then signed with the Eagles. You might have to go all the way back to Curtis Conway to find a Bear receiver who made a defense plan for him and Willie Gault before that. The net is Chicago has been a grave yard for WR's, don't count on that changing soon especially with a 2nd year QB and suspect O-line (their best, Sitton has left for Miami).

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2018 at 03:26 pm

"when was the last time they had a true #1 ?"

If we're discounting Jeffery, then Brandon Marshall?

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lou's picture

March 26, 2018 at 04:41 pm

I can agree he was a #1 but also a #1 problem in the locker room like the Bennett brothers, those type as good as they are soon end up not worth the production. The point on the lack of QB talent is very valid as well. Until our "12 Man", Jay Cutler you had to go all the way back to Sid Luckman for most TD passes, what a long stretch that was.

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Cubbygold's picture

March 26, 2018 at 04:05 pm

I think their tradition of employing terrible QBs has a lot to do with their success at WR

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al bundy's picture

March 26, 2018 at 02:32 pm

Its always about da moooney. He got a good offer from da bears and a terrible one from the pack. end of story.
Theres been a lot of print about how the Pack are trying to lo ball the better players who are saying no thanks we want money

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John Kirk's picture

March 26, 2018 at 07:16 pm

This gives me great hope in Brian that he gets that we need a guy opposite Adams...a better suited WR1 type to help Adams and our offense.

I kept thinking there's no way this is the plan at WR. Big of an issue as CB. Gives me hope that 14 or trade down from there may result in a 1st round WR.

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