The writing has been on the wall for the Jacksonville Jaguars' eventually decision on left tackle Cam Robinson ahead of the franchise tag deadline, and it appears there won't be any surprises on Thursday afternoon.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Jaguars aren't expected to sign Robinson to a multi-year deal, with the team instead opting to let Robinson play on the franchise tag in 2021. The deadline to sign franchise-tagged players to extended deals is on July 15, and it appears Robinson will join the likes of Allen Robinson, Marcus Maye, Brandon Scherff, and others and play on his one-year tag.
“We feel that the way this free agency is moving, is that left tackle position—as always—but even more now this year from hearing from the guys who've been in an NFL, this is a tough year for that left tackle position, and we feel just what's out there, and with coaching, culture and development, Cam, Cam has a lot of talent," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said in March when the Jaguars franchise-tagged Robinson.
Robinson was selected No. 34 overall in the second round in 2017, the second draft pick of the Tom Coughlin front office era. He started 18 games for the Jaguars at left tackle as a rookie (three postseason).
Robinson played just two games in 2018 due to a season-ending ACL injury, but he recovered in time to play in Week 3 in the following season. Since then, Robinson has started 30-of-30 games at left tackle.
Robinson's franchise tag makes him one of the offense's highest-paid players and gives him a cap hit ($13,754,000) that is tied for fourth-most among all offensive tackles in 2021, according to Spotrac.
Robinson has been widely regarded as a strong run blocker who needs to find consistency as a pass-protector. The Jaguars invested in Robinson for 2021 with the belief that he can improve in that area, however, making him one of the first major decisions of the Urban Meyer and Trent Baalke era.
"From a run standpoint, I really can’t [complain] about any of our guys and how we approach it. I’m of the belief that there [are] very few teams, if we decide that we want to hand a ball off, are going to stop us from running the ball," Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop said during minicamp.
"But where we struggled last year at times was in pass protection. And that’s a technique issue and a consistency issue. And that’s been addressed and will continue to be addressed, those guys know it. It’s something that we’re not shying away from, so it’ll get better.”
Adding a layer of intrigue to Robinson's situation is the fact the Jaguars used the No. 45 overall pick in April's NFL Draft on left tackle Walker Little. Little will be expected to be Robinson's immediate backup as a rookie, but the Jaguars now have a young tackle to develop behind Robinson for a season and potentially use as leverage following 2021.
With this in mind, the Jaguars believed in Robinson enough to franchise tag him for 2021 as opposed to testing the free agent market or trading for Orlando Brown. The Jaguars also picked three players in the draft before addressing offensive tackle, reflecting the Jaguars' committment to Robinson for at least 2021.