Wideout Laurent Robinson was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. As is customary when any free agent hits the radar of Cowboys fans, especially one with some sort of team ties, fans ask early and often if there would be interest from the franchise.
It wasn't that long ago that Cowboys fans were so excited about the three-headed monster being touted at the wide receiver position. Signed right before the 2011 season opener, then released and re-signed, Laurent Robinson quickly grew a rapport with quarterback Tony Romo. It was the type of rapport that normally doesn't happen for a player that never had a chance to meld with the QB through a training camp and offseason. In addition, Robinson had never provided much production over his career to that point.
In four years before joining Dallas, Robinson had never scored more than two touchdowns in a year and hadn't approached the 400+ yards he gained in his rookie season. He was however versed in the Air Coryell offense that the Cowboys run, as a product of spending the 2011 offseason with the San Diego Chargers. When Jason Garrett was looking for a receiver, friend Norv Turner suggested Robinson. The results were awesome.
Robinson came in and immediately clicked with Romo, to the tune of 858 yards and 11 touchdowns as the number three receiver. He would actually spend more time as the number two receiver as both Miles Austin and Dez Bryant went through a season of nagging-type injuries. During the middle of the season, Robinson would score 7 touchdowns over a stretch of 5 games and accrued three 100-yard games over the season.
The problem was that he was on a one-year deal and as we all know, folks that succeed in Dallas tend to be heavily valued by other teams in the league. In came the Jacksonville Jaguars to swoop him up to the tune of a 5 year, $32.5 million contract. There was no way that Dallas was looking to match that money, even though they clearly wanted him back.
Robinson's year in Jacksonville didn't go that well. Brought in to work with their young quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Robinson had a really rough year. Statwise it was a huge disappointment, but that shouldn't even be the focus of the story. Only catching 252 yards and no touchdowns pales in comparison to the fact that Robinson's career was threatened due to suffering four concussions.
You didn't read that incorrectly, he suffered four concussions in a four-month period. Here's a writeup from NFL.com from as recently as February:
Still experiencing symptoms, Robinson remains sensitive to light and cannot be around his crying infant daughter because of the "throbbing" headaches. The aftereffects have been severe enough that Robinson won't go to the grocery store or even take out the trash during daylight hours.
Robinson concedes that it was the "wrong decision" to keep coming back last season after the first couple of concussions, but he's still turning to hyperbaric-chamber sessions and resistance flexibility training in an effort to alleviate the symptoms and continue his football career. The Jaguars have simply told Robinson to stay home and rest his brain this offseason.
Although Robinson is tentatively allowing himself two more concussions before cutting the cord on his football career, his conscientious wife, Kat, is taking a more cautious approach.
About three weeks ago, Robinson was medically cleared to return to practice. However, in his absence (and once Blaine Gabbert was benched) Jacksonville's receiving corps started to emerge without him. Their future is Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. Due a $2m roster bonus this coming weekend, Robinson was released today.
Which brings us back around to the questions in the Twitterverse, should the Cowboys pursue him? It's a sticky situation, because as a fan of his, you want him to make sure that he is completely healthy. You hate to see a player put their career ahead of their health but that often times is the decision made by players faced with retirement before the age of 30. On the bright side, should his career not continue, he was paid a handsome sum of $14m guaranteed from his deal with Jacksonville. Most people don't sniff anywhere near that amount for a lifetime so as long as his quality of life isn't forever impacted, no one should feel badly for him in the long run.
If I were the Cowboys, I'd check to see if Robinson would be cleared by my doctors. The team tried to use Kevin Ogletree to replace Robinson in 2012 to bad results until Dwayne Harris started to emerge near the end of the season. There could easily be a place for a healthy Robinson at a bargain price like the vet minimum. Bargains might be all that Dallas is looking at in this cap-strapped offseason.
What do you think? Should the Cowboys kick the tires on this one?