It’s hard to even imagine it now. It seems like a fictional story reserved only for the silver screen. A disgruntled and underperforming NFL wide receiver finds new life on a new team and fulfills his potential on the world’s biggest stage. But that’s exactly what happened to wideout Laurent Robinson when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. But the ending to this odyssey is a bit more murky as Robinson now sits unemployed and out of the league for over a year. His tale, once about redemption, has now become a warning for the entire NFL.
After four unproductive seasons in the league with the St. Louis Rams and the Atlanta Falcons, the latter’s third round pick in 2007 landed with a Dallas team who was already in the midst of their 2011 regular season. With wideouts Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in the fold, the Robinson signing help solidify the club’s third and fourth receiver spots. And it didn’t take very long for the Illinois State alum to prove Dallas had made a wise choice. In just his second game as a Cowboy, Robinson recorded seven catches for 116 yards against the Detroit Lions.
Robinson would finish his Cinderella season recording 54 receptions for 858 yards and a team-leading 11 touchdowns. Since he had only signed a one-year contract with Dallas, Robinson became an unrestricted free agent after the end of the year. But due to salary cap restrictions, the Cowboys were unable to re-sign the receiver as he was looking to cash in on his breakout performance. And that’s exactly what Robinson did.
In March of 2012, Robinson signed a five-year, $32 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ironically, it would be a mere year later, almost to the exact date of the signing, that he would be released from the team. Robinson played a total of seven games in Jacksonville. In that short amount of time, Robinson was allowed to suffer an astonishing four concussions. He was placed on injured reserve in late November and ultimately released in March of 2013.
This seemed to open the door for Robinson to return to Dallas. And Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones seemed open to the idea:
“Obviously, he played lights out and we tried to sign him last year and his price got more than we could handle under our cap. We’ve got to look at the big picture with Laurent. He had some (concussions) that we’re going to be doing our homework on and be going from there.”
Apparently the homework results were not good. Dallas opted to draft Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft instead. During that same offseason, Robinson tried out for seven different NFL teams. But he left all seven of them without a contract. According to inside sources, the teams’ management and coaches were simply too concerned over his previous concussion history to sign him.
That was a year ago. There is no current news about Robinson or his whereabouts. His Twitter account hasn’t been updated since October. His official website’s domain registration has now expired. Robinson is off the grid. Maybe it’s time Dallas kicked the tires on him one more time.
With the Cowboys expected to release veteran wideout Miles Austin after June 1st, Dallas will have a spot open in their wide receiver corps. Some speculate, including myself, that Dallas will address this need in the upcoming draft. But with all the issues the Cowboys defense had last year, the more picks we can dedicate solely to that side of the ball, the better. Why not bring in a receiver whom you know has chemistry with quarterback Tony Romo and can be signed for the veteran minimum? I’m not saying we should sign him on the spot, but isn’t he at least worth a look? And at that salary, considering our cap situation, isn’t it worth the risk?
Tell me what you think in the comments section below. And if Laurent is reading this, keep your chin up. You’ll always have a special place in the hearts of all true blue Cowboys fans.