Early on Tuesday, April 18th, amid the noise as we inch closer to NFL draft day, the first notable trade in a while came through. The Rams will be trading wide receiver Allen Robinson, along with a seventh-round pick to the Steelers for a seventh-rounder in return.
This is an interesting trade, but it’s not all that surprising. Los Angeles is in the midst of a clear rebuild, and are jettisoning any player with an ounce of value left. Robinson falls in that category. Interestingly, the Rams will still be taking on $10.25 million of Robinson’s $15 million salary. Essentially, the Steelers got Robinson for nothing.
So, how is Robinson going to fit in Pittsburgh?
How Has Allen Robinson Looked Recently?
One of the reasons the Steelers were able to essentially steal Allen Robinson is because his value is so low. It’s a bit surprising the Rams were even able to find a taker for Robinson, even though they had to pay a large portion of his salary anyway.
In his first year in Inglewood, Robinson played in just 10 games, and finished with only 33 catches. Robinson had 339 yards, three touchdowns, and about 10.3 yards per attempt.
Robinson’s season wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was not on par with expectations. Robinson signed a three-year, $46 million deal last offseason, and his availability, as well as production, did not match that price tag. With that in mind, it makes sense the Rams will be carrying a portion of his contract next year.
What Can Allen Robinson Bring to the Steelers?
Robinson has been a great receiver for a large portion of his career. However, due to some injuries in recent years, he’s lost a step. With this in mind, he’s been forced to adjust his game.
As receivers get older and their bodies wear down, we often see a shift in their game. They rely less on speed and strength, but more on route-running and other, more technical skills. One position with a huge emphasis on route running is at slot receiver, which would be an excellent role for Robinson.
Robinson’s route running is terrific, as you’ll see below;
Robinson has seen less and less work in the slot in recent years, but he still managed to play there on 34% of his snaps in 2022. Throughout his entire career, he played in the slot for a whopping 71% of his snaps. Robinson hasn’t played in the slot much recently, as the Rams used him almost exclusively on the outside last year. Still, he’s got more than enough experience to produce in that role again.
Just How Much of an Upgrade is he?
This seems like a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Steelers. They don’t need Robinson to be the star-caliber player he used to be. After all, Pittsburgh already has Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. Pat Freiermuth is a solid target at tight end, as well. So, coming into the season, Robinson should only be the third or fourth option for Kenny Pickett.
Pittsburgh is also only paying about $5 million of Robinson’s contract, with Los Angeles paying the rest. Considering his low price tag, the lowered expectations at this point in his career, his veteran leadership, and his skill set that is still more than capable, it’s hard to dislike this trade from Pittsburgh’s standpoint.