Last season during a week 13 game against the Los Angeles Rams, second-year Jaguars running back James Robinson fumbled on his team’s first drive. It was the young buck’s first encounter with the one they call Aaron Donald, who greeted the Illinois State product by rudely ripping the ball from his hands and violently body slamming him to the turf.
Aaron Donald threw James Robinson like a rag doll pic.twitter.com/im7VE8LPPr— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2021
That play summed up Jacksonville’s brutal day underneath the Southern California sun as they would go on to lose 37-7. Robinson would sit out the next three drives following the turnover. Heading into the matchup with Los Angeles, the running back was a game-time decision as he was nursing heel and knee injuries.
After the game, failed excuse for an NFL coach Urban Meyer took plenty of heat for how he used Robinson throughout the game. Most notable came when James returned in the third quarter and got three carries in garbage time with the Jaguars already down by 30 points. Robinson was understandably confused and frustrated by his usage in an interview following the game:
Jags RB James Robinson reacts to being benched after a second straight week with a fumble during his weekly appearance on @ActionSportsJax Jags Report Live. Watch the full video here (https://t.co/zje4Od0Ovy) for more thoughts on if he's getting the ball enough... #ASJax pic.twitter.com/pGiB6iu6AV— BrentDanStuartMarcelAlivia (@ActionSportsJax) December 7, 2021
Potential franchise savior Trevor Lawrence came to Robinson’s defense and called out his woefully inept coaching staff in the process:
#SportsNews Lawrence to Jags: Robinson needs to be on field: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence said Wednesday he made it clear to the Jaguars' coaching staff that RB James Robinson needs to be on the field as much as possible after he was benched for 20 plays Sunday against the Ram ... pic.twitter.com/lt7Km7Z4rc— Muggs-N-Manor (@muggsnmanor) December 9, 2021
Fast-forward to the present, Meyer is gone and Doug Pederson is now at the controls. On the first official depth chart for the 2022 season, Robinson was listed as Jacksonville’s RB1. A surprising development considering James is only eight months removed from an Achilles injury he suffered at the end of last season. Also, he came into camp against Travis Etienne, a 2021 first-rounder out of Clemson who appears fully recovered from a Lisfranc injury he suffered in the Jags’ second preseason game last season.
So, why did I bring any of this up?
I did so because I believe the Rams should consider a trade for James Robinson, or at least make a call with the Jaguars and see what his asking price would be if made available.
This trade scenario might not be as far-fetched or expensive as you’d think.
The seeds for such an idea were planted on social media as early as last summer.
I’m confident in the RBs the @RamsNFL have now but signing a veteran like LeVeon Bell or Adrian Peterson wouldn’t hurt since we lost our top RB— LA Sports Fanatic (@McVaysPlaybook) July 26, 2021
...and if you want a proven young workhorse then James Robinson is the perfect RB to trade for. All T!
Send James Robinson to the LA Rams. That dude deserves a full workload.— Joey Ricotta (@JoeyKnowsNothin) July 20, 2021
Real talk if I’m the LA Rams I’m hitting up Urban Meyer TODAY to see about acquiring James Robinson. pic.twitter.com/u4L8rR28xI— Ray G (@RayGQue) July 20, 2021
Acquiring James Robinson would help a position of need for LA. In their Super Bowl campaign, the Rams ranked 25th in rushing (99.0 yards per game). Aside from uncertainty over the O-line, running back is the biggest question mark on LA’s offense.
Looking ahead to the season just over a month away, I’m skeptical of a Cam Akers breakout. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but Akers was mostly ineffective in the playoffs. That’s an unfair critique since he was coming off a serious injury and should benefit from participating in training camp this offseason after being unable to last year. Still, I’ll only believe a Cam breakout campaign when I see it.
Besides, the Rams’ front office has made bolder trades in the past then what I’m suggesting. A trade for Robinson would be nothing compared to Les Snead blockbusters like the ones for Matthew Stafford, Von Miller and Brandin Cooks among others.
At most, Los Angeles could send over a mid-level draft pick and a backup player to the Jaguars. Currently, the Rams hold 2023 draft picks in the second, third, fifth and sixth-rounds. Again, this is all hypothetical, but I’m thinking a third-rounder and Darrell Henderson would be enough for a deal.
Henderson is scheduled to be a free agent by the end of the year. When healthy, the former third-rounder has a total of 1831 yards from scrimmage along with 14 TDs since being drafted in 2019. Darrell displays versatility similar to what Jacksonville is hoping to get out of Etienne. Both are weapons in the passing game and can split carries when necessary which would make this a fair trade. If the Jaguars are truly committed to improving the offense around Lawrence, this should be a trade to consider.
In 28 total games since being undrafted out of ISU in 2020, Robinson has accumulated 2403 yards from scrimmage and 18 total touchdowns. He would be a perfect compliment to Akers and wouldn’t have to be the workhorse back like he was on a terrible Jaguars team.
The problem is, James is already on a team that on the surface, appears committed to him. Jacksonville Head Coach Doug Pederson listed Robinson at the top of the depth chart for a reason. He obviously believes in the running back as he makes his return to the field. In practice on Monday, Robinson was handling reps with the first-team offense. Full-team drills are likely on the horizon for him in the coming weeks as he regains his health.
As I’ve said throughout this article, this is merely a trade idea the Rams should consider. Who knows, perhaps at this very moment, Les Snead and Sean McVay stumble upon this post for God knows why and decide to sleep on it. Upon waking up from their beauty rest, they realize it’s absolutely genius. After that, they offer me a job in the Rams’ front office where I help them build another Super Bowl team. Oh sorry, this was all hypothetical of course. A guy can dream can’t he?
Robinson might be in the RB1 driver’s seat in Duval right now, but a lot can change once the season arrives. While a trade is unlikely, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The only tip I can give the Rams before making a call to the Jaguars is similar to any dating advice I’ve ever received:
The worst they can say is no.