Allen Robinson’s time in Los Angeles is coming to a close, one year after signing with the Los Angeles Rams. On Monday it was reported by Tom Pelissero that Robinson has been granted a trade request, and the Rams are willing to pay part of his salary to facilitate a deal.
Robinson’s 2022 season was bad, but it was also an extension of the Rams as a whole. The receiver never looked comfortable in the Rams’ offense, and he never developed a rapport with Matthew Stafford, which played out on the field as the quarterback locked onto Cooper Kupp on the majority of passing downs, often not even looking Robinson’s way.
On the surface a 29-year-old receiver coming off back-to-back sub-500 yard seasons is barely something to move the needle. Any other year he’d be dealt for a late round pick to a team needing depth, but 2023 is a very weird year for wide receivers. There isn’t a bumper crop of talent entering the draft, and this is the weakest group of pass catchers to hit free agency in a long time.
With the best free agent options being JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers and Odell Beckham Jr. it absolutely opens the door for a WR-needy team to trade for Robinson, rather than get sucked into vastly overpaying a weak market. Believe it or not, there are some teams that really make sense here.
Kansas City Chiefs
If you’re a receiver looking to rehabilitate their career there’s no better place than KC. On the surface Robinson’s play style might not entirely mesh with the Chiefs’ offense, but this team is better skilled at adapting to talent that anyone in the NFL, as we saw when the team transitioned from Tyreek Hill to JuJu Smith-Schuster as their primary wideout.
As it stands the Chiefs are currently working to re-sign both Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, both of whom are free agents — and that’s easier said than done in a very soft market. Both are prime candidates to get vastly overpaid based on their production, which opens up Robinson as a possibility.
If you assume the Rams will pay part of 2023’s salary, and then the Chiefs restructure the remaining two years of Robinson’s contract there’s a very real chance he could be had on the cheap, which buys Kansas City time to find long-term solutions in the draft.
The Vikings have a window that’s open right now — and they have to capitalize. Regardless of your thoughts on Kirk Cousins, there’s little doubting that as it stands Minnesota is in a good position to make the playoffs, and depending on what happens with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay they could be the runaway favorites to win the division.
This team has to find another receiving weapon, however. Justin Jefferson is the best WR in football, but after him there are major questions. Adam Thielen has slowed down to the point where he really needs to transition to a third option, and Jalen Raegor was a non-factor in 2022.
The biggest stumbling block here is cap management. The Vikings are still dealing with misallocation of funds leftover from the previous regime, and are carrying massive cap numbers into 2023 for Thielen ($19.9M), Harrison Smith ($19.1M) and Dalvin Cook ($14.1M). If those deals could be reworked then it opens the door for someone like Robinson to move into the No. 2 spot to take pressure off Jefferson, and allow Thielen to become a third option.
Green Bay Packers
Initially I thought this would be predicated on Aaron Rodgers returning, but the more I think about it, it’s a move that should probably happen regardless of the quarterback.
The Packers will likely lose Allen Lazard in free agency, and with him one of the team’s few weapons. Christian Watson showed a lot of promise in the back half of the season, but the team needs another receiver to pair with him — whether that’s with Rodgers throwing the ball, or getting the Jordan Love era off on the right foot.
Furthermore, there’s value here in blocking the Vikings from getting Robinson too — so these two NFC North teams could bid against each other.
New York Giants
Brian Daboll’s team are on the upswing, and they have to keep pouring more gas on this fire. Offensively this team needs help in the passing game, and right now the receiving corps as a whole is very weak.
The current brain trust can’t be blamed for the failed Kenny Golladay experiment, but his release leaves the Giants’ receiver group even weaker, and also smaller. The only big-bodied receiver the team has is Isaiah Hodgins, who is inconsistent at best, and getting a player like Robinson would help a lot — especially if the team commits to Daniel Jones.
There’s every chance the Giants look to draft a WR early, and having another veteran receiver would help in this regard too.
When you have to resort to signing T.Y. Hilton it’s a sign your receiver depth is in trouble.
CeeDee Lamb is unquestionably great, but after than it’s all a big question mark. Michael Gallup has injury concerns, but even when he’s healthy he’s a not a difference maker. Combine this with the reality that the Cowboys are either going to lost Tony Pollard in free agency, or find a way to trade away Ezekiel Elliot and you have an offense facing retooling.
The best move this team could make is getting more weapons in the passing game, and similar to the NFC North dichotomy with the Vikings and Packers, we could also see the Cowboys and Giants duke it out for who trades for Robinson.