Left tackle Cam Robinson will be a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars for at least one more year after getting the franchise tag for the second time in his NFL career. However, the Jags are working hard to ensure Robinson stays in the team beyond 2022.
General manager Trent Baalke told the media during the Jaguars’ Pre-Draft press conference that the team and Robinson have engaged in great discussions. Baalke thinks talks are moving in the right direction and went on to say that will continue to move down the road and see if they can get a long-term deal done. Moreover, he says that agreeing to a multi-year contract won’t exclude the team from drafting an offensive tackle:
"As far as preparing, we’re looking at who can help this football team the most. Some have said we got Cam tagged, so we’re not looking at the tackle position. I wouldn’t go down that road. Right now, everyone’s fair game, as far as this draft is concerned in every position."
Earlier this year, it looked (at least from the outside) that the Jaguars were going to let Robinson walk away in free agency and would take an offensive tackle with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, they tagged him before free agency started and the belief around the league is that Jacksonville will now take a pass rusher — Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia’s Travon Walker.
The Jaguars might be better off drafting a pass rusher at No. 1 in the draft.
It’s a good thing that the Jaguars want to make sure Trevor Lawrence has great protection up front but there has to be a point where they can’t keep pouring resources into the offensive line. Robinson will start at left tackle for at least one more season and Jawaan Taylor is set to be the right tackle in 2022. Jacksonville drafted Walker Little 45th overall last season and they can’t simply let him ride the bench and must find him a place in the lineup.
If the Jaguars draft an offensive lineman — Alabama’s Evan Neal or North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, they could plug him at left guard and move him to left tackle in 2023. However, that scenario wouldn’t be feasible if Robinson signs a long-term deal.
Another possibility is that the Jaguars are trying to get a long-term deal done with Robinson because they don’t plan to take an offensive tackle at No. 1 and are targeting Walker or Hutchinson. Although Robinson wasn’t particularly consistent early in his career, he was one of Jacksonville’s top offensive linemen last season, it’s not surprising that they want to keep him around.
Neal or Ekwonu would give the Jaguars’ offensive line a boost but it doesn’t make sense to draft the if they want to give Robinson a long-term deal. Either scenario would be fine but not both at the same time.