The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t taking any chances when it comes to making sure Trevor Lawrence has great protection up front and they have applied the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson before the deadline for the second consecutive season.
The Jags have announced they have used the franchise tag, which will have a cost of $16.5 million in 2022, on Robinson. This is somewhat surprising because Mike Giardi of NFL Media reported that Jacksonville, along with the Miami Dolphins, “wanted a seat” on Armstead’s negotiation table.
Giardi previously reported that the Jags are going to shop the top pick in the selection meeting but might not want to trade that far back. Tagging Robinson could prompt the team’s brass to take Alabama’s Evan Neal and North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu off their draft board.
A second-round selection by the Jags in 2017, Robinson has made 61 starts over the last five years. Although he had been inconsistent throughout most of his career, he finished the 2021 season strong, posting a 76.6 Pro Football Focus’ passing-blocking grade, the highest mark of his career.
Tagging Cam Robinson will impact the Jaguars’ offseason strategy.
Even though Robinson will be eating up a good chunk of the Jaguars cap space, they will still have enough money to make a couple of splash signings in free agency. They could target Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (if released) or a pass rusher like Chandler Jones or Von Miller.
On the other hand, keeping Robinson could mean that the Jaguars already set their sights on Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Another possibility is that they will start to aggressively work the phone and look for the best possible package in exchange for the top overall pick in the draft.
Retaining Cam Robinson isn’t necessarily a bad move. Evan Neal could have a higher ceiling and Terron Armstead is more talented but Robinson made strides last season and has shown he’s more than capable of holding his own. Having said that, it will be interesting to see what Jacksonville does with second-year offensive tackle Walker Little, who showed promise in two starts near the end of the 2021 season. Will the coaching staff move him to the right side? He’s too talented to keep riding the bench, so the Jags need to play him somewhere.
While using the tag on Robinson might have been an unexpected move, the Jaguars have now checked one box off their offseason to-do list but they still have plenty of items left to address. This is the first big move they make this offseason, it remains to be seen what they will do next but one thing is sure, it looks like they will be active.