The Pittsburgh Steelers reinforced their wide receiver room yesterday with the acquisition of veteran Allen Robinson via trade from the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are paying half of what he was still owed for this season and were willing to take just a swap of seventh-round picks.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a sultan’s ransom, so one should not expect much in return. But can Robinson produce more than what the deal might sound like? Rams beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic believes so, telling Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan that his signing there last year “was sort of already setting up to be a disaster”.
A former second-round pick, Robinson played under the franchise tag in 2021 with the Chicago Bears before signing with the Rams a year ago. Rodrigue describes that as a chaotic time for the defending Super Bowl champions.
“He wasn’t in the right role with where he’s at as a receiver now in this offense, and that was part of the reason why it didn’t work out”, she said. “They really went after him in a bit of a panic, a little bit of an impulsive decision-making process, which is not really like them over the last six years”.
She described a situation in which head coach Sean McVay got on the phone with quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp, essentially asking them what they felt the team should do and who to look at. They were dealing with injuries to Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. already. And they didn’t foresee the role that was best suited for Robinson.
“The vision that they outlined for him was sort of an Iso X receiver”, she said, noting that that is not where he fits at this point in his career. “They really wanted Cooper Kupp to mash up the middle of the field and still play that F role that their offense runs through”.
According to Rodrigue—and frankly, the tape—he is “so much more suited to play a big slot role” going into his 10th season. But she says that’s not something the Rams could work on during the offseason with Stafford not throwing due to his arm issue. He got in “maybe like 100 throws with Allen by the time they actually got onto a football field”.
She also described a disastrous situation in Los Angeles generally, including a bad offensive line that did the timing between Robinson and Stafford no favors and caused Stafford to increasingly rely on Kupp as his go-to target and first read. But she didn’t put all the blame elsewhere.
“He has to become a better fit in where he’s at in his career, a different type of receiving position”, she said of Robinson, which I believe is likely what the Steelers have in mind for him. What it seems he is able to do best going into his 10th season also happens to be what Pittsburgh needs a third wide receiver to come in and do.
Last year didn’t work out for either the Rams or for Robinson, clearly, and now both sides are trying to make the best of it. Los Angeles was in a hurry to move on, even after paying him more than $5 million in March as a roster bonus. That sounds scary, but that doesn’t mean what happened out west will happen in western PA.