Running back James Robinson came out of nowhere in 2020 and provided a spark for the Jacksonville Jaguars in what turned out to be one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. Three years later, Robinson finds himself without a team after being released by the New England Patriots less than three months after joining them in free agency.
New England announced they released Robinson Monday despite the fact that he had signed a two-year deal worth $4 million in March. Evan Lazar of the Patriots' official website says Robinson's lack of burst was noticeable in practice and added that his extra gear has been waning since suffering an Achilles tear in 2021.
Mike Reiss of ESPN notes that the Pats released Robinson on the first day of mandatory workouts, "when players routinely take physical examinations". Reiss also points out that Robinson's contract had no guaranteed money and included protections based on his injury history.
Robinson totaled 1,414 yards from scrimmage in 2020, the most by an undrafted rookie in league history, and was one of the Jags' few playmakers on a roster devoid of talent. Poised to pick up where he left off in 2021, the former Illinois State Redbird was benched by Urban Meyer and returned to the lineup only because then-rookie Trevor Lawrence demanded it.
Not long after being reinstated in the starting lineup, Robinsons suffered the aformentioned Achilles injury and spent most of the 2022 offseason recovering. Even though he was ready for the season opener and was RB1 on the Jacksonville depth chart, he was eventually phased out in favor of Travis Etienne.
After Etienne became the top running back in the Jaguars' backfield, Robinson was traded to the New York Jets, where he was a healthy scratch throughout most of the second half of the 2022 season. Looking for a fresh start, the Illinois native joined the Pats but his tenure in Foxborough ended up lasting just 12 weeks.
James Robinson was a bright spot for the Jaguars in 2020
Robinson is a free agent again, free to sign with any club he wants. However, he might have trouble finding a team due to the fact that he's no longer the same explosive player he was pre-injury. It surely stings because it looked like he was on his way to becoming one of the top running backs in the league.
Despite the fact that the Jaguars' offense ranked 30th in points scored and 28th in total yards in 2020, Robinson averaged 4.5 yards per carry even though the offensive line wasn't particularly great. You could even make the case he was the offense when you take into account that an ineffective Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton, and Mike Glennon took turns at quarterback for Jacksonville that year.
Even when Meyer decided to bench Robinson, he still managed to tally 767 yards on 164 rushes for an average of 4.7 yards per carry in 2021. It's hard to tell what's next for Robinson but here's a video of him breaking off a 50-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3 of the 2022 season for old times' sake.