Allen Robinson won’t become a free agent after being hit with the franchise tag by the Chicago Bears. That doesn’t necessarily mean the wide receiver will return to the Windy City for the 2021 season.

Robinson is a potential trade candidate since the two sides have not agreed to a new contract. The 27-year-old has made it clear that he wants a long-term deal, and he indicated to NFL reporter Tyler Dunne in February that being tagged could result in him asking for a trade.

Robinson and Chicago hadn’t discussed a potential extension for months as of a few weeks ago, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, noting that the Bears could potentially explore tagging and trading the receiver.

In all three of his seasons with Chicago, Robinson has been the team’s leading receiver. Robinson finished the 2020 season with 102 receptions for 1,250 yards, despite subpar quarterback play from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

“We have a history of extending our players,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters last week. “We usually find a way to make that work. The proof is kind of in the pudding with that. And every one of them is different. Every one of them is personal, and that's why I’m sensitive, and I hope you guys understand, about talking about that in the media.

“But it’s a process. It takes both sides to work through that, and every one of them is unique. I do like to lean on our history. I think [director of football administration] Joey Laine does a great job of working through that and building relationships with those agents. Allen has a really good agent that we’ve worked within the past, and it’s a process. We're kind of going through that.”

Robinson and the Bears have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. With no contract extension, Robinson would be forced to play the 2021 season on the one-year tag.

Robinson would have been the top receiver on the free-agent market.

Allen Robinson Chicago Bears
Jeff Gladney #20 of the Minnesota Vikings pushes Allen Robinson #12 of the Chicago Bears out of bounds during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images