There has been a lot of conversation about wide receiver Allen Robinson II since the Pittsburgh Steelers acquired him from the Los Angeles Rams via trade. His tenure with his former team was thoroughly unremarkable, shortened by injury, but he finds himself only a couple years removed from his last productive season.
Much has been made about his time with the Rams, and even he acknowledges in hindsight that it wasn’t the ideal situation for him. “I’m learning a lot about fit”, he told reporters yesterday via the team’s website, making an analogy about being a fork and not wanting to be used as a spoon.
“I think that makes it tough on everybody”, Robinson said, when you’re not being utilized to your strengths, yet he still had praise for his former employer. “I learned a lot from their system, from Cooper [Kupp]. I learned a lot about myself as well. I learned a lot when it came to different routes and conceptualizing different things and learning about defense”. He mentioned feeling the Steelers have the right plan for how to use him and said some of his best seasons came when he had a higher rate of snaps in the slot.
One of the many issues that he had with the Rams was a lack of opportunity to get in work with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was dealing with injury during the offseason, preventing him from throwing. He also played his last season in Chicago in 2021 primarily with a rookie quarterback who had a propensity to tuck and run, who did not begin the year as a starter, so he’s also learned about the importance of having a connection.
“Never undervalue the fact of communication”, Robinson said. “Along the way, from play in, play out, as a team, as a unit, as a player, from player to player, player to coach, coach to player, communication is key, and that’s across the board”.
Of course, now he himself is coming off of an injury, and the Steelers have already said that they are going to take a cautious approach, likening it to their strategy for handling Larry Ogunjobi last year when they signed him in June and gave him little work.
That will make it harder to establish an on-field rhythm with second-year Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, at least in terms of routes. But he still has two working hands, and there’s nothing wrong with Pickett’s arm.
Pittsburgh swapped seventh-round draft picks for the Rams in exchange for the one-time Pro Bowler, also agreeing to take on $5 million of the $10 million in base salary he was still owed for 2023. Los Angeles had already paid him $5.25 million in a March roster bonus.
Robinson now joins a Steelers team that was looking to shore up its wide receiver depth chart with an established veteran who could come in and work with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens and take up some of those snaps in the slot that they had been looking for.
The Rams seemed to have a hard time finding buyers on Robinson, still 29 until August, even though it was reported that they had been willing all along to eat some of his salary. It’s unclear how much their compensation demands evolved by the time it reached the level at which the Steelers bit, but the general impression is that Pittsburgh got a potential bargain for the upside of what he could be in the right fit.