Jaguars should not go back to Cam Robinson if Walker Little thrives in his absence

The Jacksonville Jaguars cannot go back to Cam Robinson if Walker LIttle thrives during his suspension for violating the PED policy.
Jan 14, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72).
Jan 14, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72). / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars had known for a while that left tackle Cam Robinson was going to serve a suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. On the other hand, the length was unknown but the league just announced that it will be for four games.

During Robinson's absence, 2021 second-round pick Walker Little will take his place in his lineup, which begs the question, what will the team's brass do after Robinson returns from the suspension? One thing they shouldn't do is plug him back at left tackle if Little is thriving.

The Jags gave Robinson a three-year deal worth $54 million last year because he had become both a leader and a mainstay of the offensive line. However, the suspension changes the dynamic and their plans. Had the Alabama product not gotten suspended, Walker Little would have probably replaced Jawaan Taylor, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, at right tackle.

However, the Jags will fill the void left by Taylor with rookie Anton Harrison and Little will move back to the left tackle, his natural position, to fill in for Robinson and that's the thing. The suspension only lasts four games, so he will be back for Week 5 of the regular season. When that happens, Jacksonville could reinsert Robinson and either send Little to the bench or move him to left guard.

The organization has already spent a significant amount of resources on Robinson and they surely don't want to see their investment stay on the sidelines. For the sake of argument, let's say the Jaguars reinsert Robinson into the lineup, they can easily move on from him next offseason.

The Jags could trade him or release him and free up $17.5 million in cap space with $4.72 in dead money but if LIttle thrives, the front office could then shop him before this year's deadline and create $8 million in cap room and $9.5 million in dead money. Alternatively, they could trade Robinson with a post-June 1 designation to split the dead money this year and next.

The Jaguars must keep Walker Little at left tackle if he thrives

It makes sense to plug Robinson back in at left tackle once he returns if Little struggles. But this is a situation of his own doing, and he wouldn't find himself in this position if he hadn't violated the PED policy. It's true that he's a darn good player and a leader of the teams but Little should only give him the job back for performance-based reasons.

The Jags have invested heavily in Robinson but Little has lots of upside and if he fares well, how can you justify not keeping him at left tackle? Sure, the Jaguars will need to cut their losses but it would be demoralizing. You can break the rules but you're place in the lineup is safe? Now, Robinson shouldn't be judged for one mistake but his actions have consequences, including paving the way for Little to show he can be the long-term answer at left tackle.

The point is that the Jaguars should reward Little and all their players if they excel in 2023 Conversely, Robinson should his job back if Little struggles but only in that scenario, And if the Jags eventually decide to move on from Robinson, he's got the talent to help other teams, so it wouldn't necessarily be a bad outcome.

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