Our next undrafted free agent preview looks at OT Greg Robinson.
How and When He Joined the Browns: The Browns signed Robinson last June to a veteran minimum contract of $790,000. The former No. 2 overall pick in 2014 had been traded to the Detroit Lions in 2017, but finished the year on injured reserve with them. With the retirement of LT Joe Thomas, Robinson likely saw Cleveland as being an opportunity where he could content for a starting job.
Productivity Level Last Season: In training camp, the Browns were positioning Joel Bitonio to move to left tackle, with rookie Austin Corbett at left guard and Robinson being a versatile backup. Instead, Hue Jackson made the bold (and dumb) last-minute decision to make undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison his starting left tackle. At the half-way point of the season, Harrison came down with an illness that would keep him out of Week 9’s game against the Chiefs. That’s when Robinson was called into action.
Robinson performed quite well, and then QB Baker Mayfield was a big vocal advocate of the job he did protecting him. It just became “assumed” from then on out that Robinson had surpassed Harrison as the team’s starting left tackle for the rest of the year. From a performance perspective, Robinson exceeded expectations big time. Here are some PFF-highlighted stats from his 2018 season:
#Browns About Greg Robinson— ChadP71 Ridin' with 6 (@chadp71) February 4, 2019
1. In 9 games he gave up 1 sack
2. He had one bad game against the Panthers
3. Against the #1 ranked Steelers, Chiefs & #11 Ravens in sacks gave up 1 sack 2nd week
4. Ravens ranked #1 over all 0 Sacks 3 Pressures
5. PFF pass block grade 68.7
The big issue for Robinson was the number of penalties he would incur.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Cleveland spent all of last offseason trying to figure out how to replace LT Joe Thomas. They didn’t need “the next Joe Thomas,” but they needed someone serviceable. For as athletic as Harrison was touted to be, he wasn’t nearly consistent enough to be counted on. Robinson showed an ability to be an above average tackle. And, most importantly, he just worked with the pairing of QB Baker Mayfield and then-offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Why use a big investment on a left tackle in the draft or free agency when Robinson, who is still just 26 years old, could be that left tackle of the future? Even Joe Thomas thinks he could be that guy!
What the Browns Should Do: It has been reported that GM John Dorsey has already been in discussions with Robinson about an extension, and he wants to return as well. This is where it gets very tricky, though. Think back to last offseason: the Browns paid OT Chris Hubbard a 5-year, $36.5 million deal based on 10 good games he had for the Steelers at right tackle the previous year. In essence, we now have the same situation with Robinson, except we’re talking about a former No. 2 overall pick.
I actually think that Cleveland could use Hubbard’s contract as a model for Robinson. Hubbard is entering year two of his deal, but if Cleveland feels he wasn’t worth it, they’ll only carry $3.2 million in dead cap for him this year and be done with him. That’s because those base salaries in the later years are put at a higher value: the player needs to perform well in order to be kept around that long. Cleveland can get the discount of Robinson wanting to play with a Mayfield and a winning team, so I will project a 4-year, $25 million deal with $8 million guaranteed for Robinson, which is similar to what Alejandro Villanueva is getting from the Steelers.
Let us know below whether or not the team should try to re-sign Greg Robinson!
Should the Browns re-sign OT Greg Robinson?
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