The signing of Allen Robinson is significant in what he brings on the field, but also his impact on the depth chart
For the most part, the Chicago Bears have done the bulk of their shopping on the free agency market. The headline of the 2018 free agency class will be Allen Robinson, who signed a 3-year, $42 million deal to open free agency.
The signing is a significant one not only for the money spent, and the skill that Robinson will bring to the field every Sunday. His presence and impact make a ripple effect all the way down the Bears depth chart that turned around overnight.
Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton
Of course, you cannot say that Allen Robinson has turned the receiver corps around overnight without mentioning that Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel came overnight as well.
However, it is fair to say that the impact of Robinson makes life easier for the signings of Gabriel and Burton. All three are signing the first big contract of their career. However, it feels as though Robinson is the only one where most can agree past production deserved it.
Gabriel has had some ups for sure, but a lot of what the Bears signed for in Gabriel comes with projection. Burton is almost solely projection, as he is making starter money after being a third tight end. However, Robinson has a 1,400-yard season in his past. He has Sports Center Top 10 play worthy material on tape.
Adding Gabriel and Burton alone looks like shots at Marcus Cooper and Markus Wheaton. Adding them with the idea in mind that they are complementary pieces to Robinson makes them look like role-playing upside bets. The pressure of living up to the contract rests on Robinson the most. The attention of defensive coordinators goes to Robinson. Meanwhile, Burton and Gabriel can take advantage and play to earn their contracts without the pressure.
Last season, Cameron Meredith was going to have to be the man. Fans and fantasy prognosticators were all-in on the Meredith breakout. However, now, he is closer to the status of Gabriel and Burton, an upside role player.
Let’s be honest, while Meredith was headlining a receiving corps, he was headlining the worst corps in the league. Even the biggest Cameron Meredith fan can understand that in an offense where he can become a second or third option in the passing game is going to be a much better offense than one in which he has to carry.
Meredith can work back into the slot and can work back into playing shape from his season-ending injury without any pressure to be an early-season impact player in 2018.
Remember him? Yes, the odds of him having any impact at all on the Bears this season or any beyond is a bad bet. However, like Meredith, it is worth looking into expectations compared to outcomes. Last season, it was a last chance of sorts for White. The team was still relying on him to make an impact on the outside, and fans still sat eagerly optimistic. He started one game before another injury derailed year three of Kevin White.
This season, the expectations are the exact opposite. Some will be surprised to find out he is still on the team. He is easily the fourth receiver on the team and counting the tight ends and running backs is not one of the top six options in the passing game this season. Let’s say he comes in for a goal-line package and catches a touchdown. Let’s say he is better depth than Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry. The expectations of being a top ten pick and a number one receiver in the NFL compared to the pressure of beating out Tanner Gentry for a depth spot. The changed expectations may bring out the best of White. They at least take the spotlight away from him and put the team in a position where every game he is active is just icing on a cake.