Allen Robinson II is a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2023. Had the team been able to wave a magic wand, it would’ve happened a year earlier. Robinson is one of the many new faces on the Steelers’ roster for this year, acquired in an April trade with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh giving up little in the way of draft capital and Los Angeles still paying the majority of his 2022 salary. It was the Rams moving on one year after giving him a three-year deal and when Robinson was a free agent a year ago, Pittsburgh had interest.
GM Omar Khan confirmed that news in a recent interview with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, which posted Friday afternoon.
“He was a free agent last year and we had an interest in him,” Khan told Florio. “It didn’t work out and he went to the Rams.”
There was little chance the Steelers could compete with the Rams’ offer, a three-year, $46.5 million deal, especially after Pittsburgh invested good money in its offensive line with the additions of guard James Daniels and to a lesser degree, center Mason Cole.
Instead, Pittsburgh added to its wide receiver room through the draft, selecting Georgia’s George Pickens in Round Two and Memphis’ Calvin Austin III in the fourth round. But Khan, as he mentioned shortly after the Robinson deal, wanted to add a veteran to that room.
“One of the things that [Coach Mike Tomlin] and I discussed earlier this year was we wanted to find a veteran leader in that receiver room,” Khan said. “When the opportunity came about where we were able to have some conversations with the Rams, they went on for a few weeks, it was a no-brainer for us.”
Adding a veteran receiver was on our free agent wish list throughout the offseason, though a down market made it hard to find a name. Options like Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell came off the board, leading Pittsburgh to explore a trade instead.
Khan explained why adding a veteran in that receiver room was important.
“We have a young group and you always like having a veteran in there…ever since I’ve been here, when we’ve been successful, there’s always been that individual in that room,” he said.
Hines Ward was that man for the first half of Khan’s career, the been-there, done-that type of player who embodied what it meant to be a Steeler. Someone less focused on stats and happy to block if it meant the team winning. But there are other examples, too. Jerricho Cotchery was a key addition while Darrius Heyward-Bey, despite primarily playing on special teams, was a key veteran presence for players like JuJu Smith-Schuster early in his career.
Though Pittsburgh’s receiver room has experience in its youth, having someone like Robinson adds a different dynamic. Khan confirmed to Florio Robinson will play in the slot and on the outside for the Steelers, versatility that will be key to Pittsburgh’s offense. With a $10 million base salary next year, Robinson may only be a Steeler for one season, but he can leave his mark on an impressionable receiver room.
You can check out the full interview below.