The Giants have the better roster, the Jets have more salary cap space, but neither wide-receiver-needy New York team perfectly checks all boxes for Allen Robinson.
In a deep class of impact free-agent wide receivers, Robinson is the top option after three straight dominant seasons with the Bears. His resume puts him a notch above Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Juju Smith-Shuster, Will Fuller, Corey Davis and others.
But Robinson, 27, is looking to maximize his value – he was coming off an ACL injury the last time he entered free agency – chase a championship and build a lasting legacy.
“I’m still on the hunt to be a Hall-of-Fame receiver,” Robinson told GoLongTD.com this week. “That’s definitely important to me, as far as being able to play my best this next part — the prime of my career. That’s what it’s about. It’s about being able to play your best, being able to play meaningful games, being able to compete for a Super Bowl.”
The Giants and Jets both have more questions than answers at quarterback, which is a turn-off for Robinson after playing the first seven years of his career with Blake Bortles, Mitch Trubisky and others with the Jaguars and Bears. Neither the Jets or Giants have won a playoff game since in the last nine seasons. Coming off a six-win season, the Giants have about $1 million in cap space before making expected cuts. The two-win Jets have about $67 million available.
Robinson hasn’t ruled out returning to the Bears, who reached the playoffs last season but are searching for a new quarterback. But he and his agent detailed in the report their efforts over the last year to jump start negotiations on a contract extension that went nowhere.
The five highest-paid receivers make more than $19 million per year in average annual salary.
“I’m not opposed to being back in Chicago by any means,” Robinson said. “I’ve even expressed that over the last couple of years wanting to be the all-time leading receiver in Chicago. … All that being said, unfortunately we’ve come to what seems to be a fork in the road. But not even a fork. We haven’t even been given a viable option to be able to do those things that we want to do without sacrificing a ridiculous amount pretty much for the rest of my career.”
The Bears could franchise tag Robinson with a one-year contract at $16.4 million to keep from losing him with nothing in return in free agency. It’s clear that would not satisfy Robinson, who then would have to decide whether to demand a trade (as he tried in September) and leverage a holdout to get into a different situation – like Jamal Adams did to the Jets last offseason.
“It’s definitely an option,” Robinson said.
Is a championship contender going to invest big bucks in a wide receiver? Just look at the lifts Stefon Diggs (Bills) and DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals) gave to their new teams this season.
“I’m always a team guy and always have been a team guy,” Robinson said. “Once you get to these points in your career where you’ve played out your contract and you’re becoming a free agent, you have to sit back and think about what’s best for you not only on the field but for your family.”