Allen Robinson was one of the key offseason additions by the Los Angeles Rams as they ramped up efforts to defend their Super Bowl title. LA gave the star receiver a three-year $46.5M contract that included $30.7M of guaranteed money.
The Rams watched Odell Beckham, Jr. serve as a capable complement to Cooper Kupp’s historic level of production late last season and into the playoffs. OBJ was one of the most important individuals for Los Angeles down the stretch, catching 9 passes for 113 yards against the 49ers in the NFC Championship and 2 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in just a few drives during Super Bowl LVI.
But with Beckham suffering a major knee injury in the big game and subsequently hitting the free agent market, the Rams needed to replace his production right away - which is how Robinson entered the picture.
The Rams-Robinson marriage seemed like a match made in heaven from the get-go, and training camp reports suggested that the star receiver looked ready to dominate on the same level as Kupp.
Main takeaway from 2 days at Rams camp: The staff here is in love with Allen Robinson. From his approach in meetings to what he can give them in this offense. His route tree and where he can line up are more varied than they’d even hoped. Potential monster year incoming.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) July 27, 2022
Seeing so much hype around Allen Robinson in Rams camp makes me sad as a #Bears fan.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) August 4, 2022
People get hung up over ‘21 but he was insanely good those previous two seasons. Always liked ARob, even when he told me to shut my ass up that one time.
WR Allen Robinson going off today. Just had a toe-tap TD in the red zone for his one of many standout catches in team drills #Rams— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) July 30, 2022
Allen Robinson stealing Rams camp spotlight in early going. Matched with Sean McVay’s praise for Tutu Atwell, Matthew Stafford could have a special WR room already even without OBJ https://t.co/Wk9bybLsc4— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) July 28, 2022
The hype regarding Allen Robinson has been off the charts. He’s been unreal in camp so far. Was he just missing a good QB before?— HoldenCantor (@HoldenCantor) August 2, 2022
...you get the point.
It did not take long for the training camp fodder to turn to criticism - Robinson has been a non-factor for Los Angeles since the first offensive drive of the regular season and continuing through the better part of the team’s five games so far.
Week 1 vs. Buffalo Bills: 2 targets, 1 catch, 12 yards
Week 2 vs. Atlanta Falcons: 5 targets, 4 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD
Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals: 5 targets, 2 catches, 23 yards
Week 4 at San Francisco 49ers: 6 targets, 2 catches, 7 yards
Week 5 vs. Dallas Cowboys: 5 targets, 3 catches, 12 yards
On the season Robinson has been targeted 23 times, catching 12 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Based on the training camp hype, most likely expected the veteran receiver to accumulate that level of production in a single game. His target share is fourth on the team behind Kupp, Tyler Higbee, and Ben Skowronek.
Stafford threw it to Allen Robinson!— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) September 18, 2022
First TD +475 ✅
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Robinson’s struggles is that the majority of his targets have come less than 10-yards from the line of scrimmage, which may be a sign the team doesn’t think he can separate on downfield concepts. Yes, the injury-riddled and porous offensive line also makes it difficult to push the ball down the field - and this could explain why Robinson’s best game came against the Falcons when the pass protection was the best it’s been all season.
The bottom line is that the Rams aren’t paying Robinson $15M per season to be targeted less than a former seventh round draft choice in Skowronek. LA didn’t expect a mere 22 yards per game when they forked over $30.7M in guaranteed money.
To Robinson’s credit, he’s been a mainstay on the field for Los Angeles - though the playing time has yet to translate into production.
Where do Rams go from here?
If the coaching staff truly believes that Robinson can no longer separate down the field on deep concepts, it’s time for the veteran to cede playing time to those who have the skillset to get open - whether that’s Tutu Atwell, Lance McCutcheon, or eventually Van Jefferson or OBJ when/if they return from injury.
Perhaps the Rams understand they are between a rock (Robinson’s contract) and a hard place (his potentially diminishing skillset), but keeping Robinson on the field is still their best option.
We’ve seen Atwell excel during his limited time on the field. He’s been targeted just four times this season, one being a dropped short pass, two were overthrows/misses by Stafford but Atwell was open, and the most recent target was completed for a 54-yard gain.
Atwell’s single catch of his career was far more exciting than anything Robinson has done so far in a Rams uniform. Unfortunately for Atwell, his size seemingly prevents him from playing a significant role on offense - though it’s fair to question whether the coaching staff should be limited him in that regard.
Lance McCutcheon is the other young receiver on LA’s roster that has showed positive signs of development, but it’s a tall task for an undrafted rookie to step into a struggling offense and expect to contribute right away.
With that said, Robinson is known for his contested catch ability, and McCutcheon flashed the same skills in the preseason. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but McCutcheon didn’t look like a rookie.
It’s time for the Rams to give their young receivers more targets, and it should come at the expense of Robinson’s playing time.
If you are hoping the Rams can cut bait on Allen Robinson after this year… pic.twitter.com/WxcUPTcN5v— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) October 9, 2022
Is it time for the Kenny Golladay treatment?
With Stafford heading from Detroit to Los Angeles via trade in the spring of 2021, his number one receiver in Detroit was also hitting the free agent market.
The New York Giants ended up signing Kenny Golladay to a four-year $72M contract with $40M guaranteed. This was the only free agent deal that netted the original team a third round compensatory selection in 2021.
The veteran receiver played in 14 games for the Giants last season, accumulating 76 targets for 37 receptions and 521 yards. Golladay has still not scored a single touchdown in New York.
The Giants clearly expected a higher level of production when they gave Golladay his big pay day, and a year later he’s become an afterthought on offense.
Golladay played 77% of the total offensive snaps in the Giants’ season opener. He then played only 2 snaps (3% of total) in Week 2, and head coach Brian Daboll said he planned to “play the guys we think are going to give us the best chance - and the other guys have to be ready to go as backups.” With New York working through a depleted receiving corps, Golladay played 33% and 42% of the offensive snaps in Week 3 and Week 4, respectively.
Brian Daboll talks about telling Kenny Golladay that David Sills would play over him pic.twitter.com/Kcea4z6mih— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) September 18, 2022
Should the Rams look to Daboll’s comments and Golladay being relegated to the sidelines as the model for Allen Robinson moving forward?
In other words, do Tutu Atwell and Lance McCutcheon give Los Angeles their best chance to win right now? How much different could the rotation look when Van Jefferson returns from injury and if the team re-signs Odell Beckham, Jr. later this season?
Robinson is running out of time to show that he belongs on the field and can produce up to the level in which he’s being compensated. However, if he continues on his current trajectory, the Rams may feel his playing time is better allocated elsewhere.
Is it time for the Rams to give Allen Robinson the Kenny Golladay treatment?