Jaguars decline to tag WR Robinson, leaving future in doubt
By MARK LONG
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) If Allen Robinson remains in Jacksonville, it won't be as one of the highest-paid receivers in the league.
The Jaguars declined to use the franchise or transition tag on Robinson, stirring questions about his future. NFL teams had until Tuesday afternoon to tag pending free agents, but Jacksonville executives told Robinson long before the deadline he would not be tagged.
Had the Jags tagged Robinson, he could have signed a one-year, $15.982 million contract for 2018. Not doing so indicates how top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell feel about Robinson; they don't believe he is worth that much money six months after reconstructive knee surgery.
Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown ($16.775M) is scheduled to make the most of any receiver in 2018.
Jacksonville and Robinson still have a week to reach a contract agreement; the team has exclusive negotiating rights with him until March 12. If no deal is reached by then, Robinson would become an unrestricted free agent on March 14.
"I don't really know what is going to happen," Robinson recently said. "I know there are a lot of different scenarios. Right now, my main focus is to kind of let my agent narrow it down and for me to get back at 100 percent. That's the main focus right now for me. I know I'll be back at 100 percent.
"I know all that is going to play out. I know the player that I am. I know that the plays that I made. I know the plays I'm going to continue to make."
Robinson had the best training camp of his career in 2017 and looked like he would be an integral part of the offense. But the 2015 Pro Bowl selection tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Jacksonville's third play of last season and had surgery the following week.
Robinson is how running again and closing in on a full recovery.
"He is right on schedule," coach Doug Marrone said last week at the NFL scouting combine. "He is there every day; I see him quite a bit. I know that he has worked hard. We have all seen his work on the field and how hard he works on the field. I think what you can't see is that he is working twice as hard in the recovery process and the rehabilitation."
Still, Robinson has missed 21 games in four seasons and wasn't a speedster to begin with. So how effective will he be coming off a major knee injury?
"There are a lot of things we like about him, but we just have to make sure it is the right thing for the team," Caldwell said at the combine.
A second-round draft pick from Penn State, Robinson has 202 catches for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games. He had 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015, establishing himself as one of the best receivers in franchise history.
But he caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six scores in 2016, causing some to wonder if his Pro Bowl season was a fluke.
If the Jaguars do move on from Robinson, they would have a huge hole to fill at the position. Marqise Lee also is a pending free agent, and the team likely will either part ways with receiver Allen Hurns or re-negotiate his contract that includes a base salary of $7 million in 2018.
"Nothing has been decided on that yet," Caldwell said. "We will look at that."
Robinson has said repeatedly he wants to stay in Jacksonville, especially since he played a cheerleading role during the team's breakthrough year and believes the Jags are poised to make another Super Bowl run in the near future.
"This is where I've been the last four years and this is something that we've all really put in and tried to build," he said. "It wasn't something that we just came into and it happened. We went from 3-13, to 5-11, 3-13 to now. It's just one of those things that, again, I stepped in here Day 1. It was a lot different than it is now."
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Updated March 6, 2018