NFL Notes: Allen Robinson, Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt

     

Allen Robinson

Bears WR Allen Robinson tells Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com that he and his representation contacted the Bears during the Combine last year to get started on a long-term deal. However, Chicago put things off until the week before the season started before reaching out to Robinson with a deal he said was below market and would have locked him in for the rest of his career. It prompted Robinson to request a trade before the situation calmed back down as he wondered if the team even had him in their future plans. 

“All these different things, I tried to look at it and say, ‘If we can’t get a deal done, this hill for me to climb to be able to perform at my best? It may be even a little greater than I thought it was,’” Robinson said. “That’s when it came about. If we are going to have to play on a contract year, is this the best situation to be able to show our value and bring our value to the table? It’s like… Do you guys even need our services?”

Robinson clarifies that any reporting about the number he’s looking for isn’t coming from him, as neither he nor his agent have talked numbers with anyone, period. However, he can realistically ask for $20 million a year on his next deal, if the Bears don’t franchise tag him. 

He adds that he’s not opposed to coming back to the Bears, but only if they’re willing to pony up what he considers to be his fair value. 

“My personal opinion, if something could possibly work? Yes,” he said. “I’m not opposed to being back in Chicago by any means. I’ve even expressed that over the last couple of years — wanting to be the all-time leading receiver in Chicago which, I believe, I’m under 2,000 yards away from that. With 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.”

“To our credit,” Robinson added, “we were much more willing to be able to get something done that’s much more reasonable for the team (in the past) and everything like that. Every week, I go out there as I’m talking to Brandon, I’m risking injury. I’m risking so much more for — not only my future financial gain — but my career as well. One of the biggest things that hurt me the most about my ACL injury was not the possible contract I missed out on. It was having to go a whole year without numbers. I want to be a Hall of Fame receiver. So, everything like that is huge. It’s a lot easier to swallow when you’re under a contract extension and you may not have the numbers. Or you may get hurt. But when all of that stuff is on the line — not just on Sunday, but each and every day when you’re going to practice and you’re doing all of these things, that is on the table each and every day. So once you overcome that stuff? It’s like, ‘Alright now. I’ve risked a lot.’”

As to whether Robinson would reignite his trade demands or take other measures to force his way out of Chicago if he is franchise-tagged…

“It’s definitely an option.”

Deshaun Watson

  • The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss, Jayson Jenks and more dive deep into Texans QB Deshaun Watson‘s rift with the organization, explaining it started when the team traded WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, but Watson was willing to overlook that when he signed his massive extension a few months later. 
  • Per the Athletic, Watson expressed his frustration to the coaches and management after the trade which he found out about on social media, and the team promised him he would be more involved in the team-building process. They also accepted his request to include a no-trade clause in his new deal. 
  • The process of Watson becoming disillusioned with the team started in the first four weeks of the season as the Texans began 0-4 and the issues from their roster mismanagement were cropping up prominently. A source close to Watson likened Houston’s team-building approach to “a kid in a video game” changing things on the fly. 
  • That feeling was only reinforced when owner Cal McNair fired HC/GM Bill O’Brien after just four weeks, with sources saying Watson questioned if the team had a plan at all. One veteran NFL executive explained: “You have an owner that is seen as inexperienced, and it’s reinforced by the hiring of Easterby and giving him the status that he did. If that had been a 15-year owner, you might say, ‘OK, this guy has made good decisions here and here, so we will give him the benefit of the doubt.’ Cal doesn’t get that.”
  • With EVP Jack Easterby serving as interim GM, sources say the team was hyper-sensitive to the perception of losing any trade after their previous moves, which contributed to some inactivity at the trade deadline. 
  • The losing predictably wore on Watson. At the end of the season, he said the team needed “a whole culture shift” and there were “too many different minds, too many different ideas and too many people who think they have this power, and it’s not like that.” A source characterized that as “a direct message to Cal McNair” about Easterby and his role with the team. 
  • The final straw was that Watson had been given the impression by McNair that he would be involved in the team’s search process for the next general manager and head coach. Instead, Easterby bypassed the search committee and Watson to land his friend and longtime target, new Texans GM Nick Caserio
  • As for a potential destination for Watson now that he’s requested a trade, the Jets and Dolphins are seen as the frontrunners given the plethora of draft assets they have but a source tells them that Watson is aware that any trade with the Jets would limit their ability to build a team around him and he’s open to other teams. 

J.J. Watt

  • Ed Werder reports that free-agent DL J.J. Watt‘s “most important considerations” in selecting his next team are: 1. Quarterback. 2. Supporting personnel. 3. Money.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, citing an NFL source, reports that the Bills are among a “half-dozen teams” that are still in contention for Watt.
  • Carucci confirms that being a Super Bowl contender and having a “top-level quarterback” are among Watt’s top criteria for choosing a new organization. 
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