Philadelphia Eagles: Resigning Patrick Robinson must be a priority

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Once considered a longshot to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster, Patrick Robinson has become arguably the leagues best slot corner and must be retained.

A lot has been written about Patrick Robinson‘s maturation from a fringe roster player to arguably the league’s best slot cornerback, and on Sunday, January 21st, the eight-year cornerback from  Florida State may have cemented his legacy in Philadelphia Eagles history.

After watching the Minnesota Vikings march down the field and score a quick six on the opening drive of the NFC Championship game, the Eagles needed someone to step up and make a play to turn the tides on a game that could have quickly gotten out of hand, and Robinson unwaveringly stepped up to bat and knocked one out of the park.

On only his seventh pass attempt of the evening, Case Keenum tried to target his number one receiver, Adam Thielen, only to have Robinson catch the ball instead, and take it to the house for a 50 yard touchdown, tying the game at 7-7, and ultimately ending the Vikings dreams of a home field Super Bowl.

Now granted, the Eagles ended up scoring 31 additional points on the Vikings “league best” defense, but Robinson’s pick recaptured the momentum in a game that was starting to feel like yet another letdown, and instead reignited 70,000 underdog Eagles fans in South Philly, and seemingly millions more across the world.

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While other defensive players, like Jalen Mills, Derek Barnett, Chris Long and Fletcher Cox all played essential roles in the Eagles win, it was Robinson who really put the team on his 5-foot-11 shoulders, and essentially punched the team’s ticket to their first Super Bowl appearance in over 10 years, and only their third appearance in franchise history.

And in my humble opinion, Robinson should be rewarded for his efforts.

Sure, one could argue that Mills has developed into the team’s best cornerback in just his second professional season, but time and time again Robinson has proven himself to be an essential part of Jim Schwartz‘s secondary, and Howie Roseman should do whatever it takes to make the former first-round pick a journeyman no more.

While many think pieces, including some published on this very blog, have theorized as to Robinson’s future moving forward, with the vast majority assuming that the team will ultimately thank him for his services and move on with their young core, the former Seminole has made that once inevitable conclusion seems virtually impossible.

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Not since the days of Brandon Boykin have the Eagles had a truly gifted nickleback, and in 2017, Robinson has been statistically better than Boykin in virtually every possible category. With a team-high five interceptions, 19 pass breakups, a kick block and a touchdown Robinson has been invaluable not only on the defensive side of the ball, but also on Dave Fipp‘s special teams unit, and has actually outplayed fellow FSU alumni Ronald Darby for much of the season.

Now, who would have ever thought that would happen?

Even with Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Darby, and Mills all set to return next season, Robinson has proven that his skillset is virtually tailor-made for Schwartz’s defensive alignment, and baring something unforeseen happening with one of the vacant head coaching seats, the pair could have an incredibly productive union together for years to come.

While Mills is essentially locked into the Eagles number one cornerback position, Jones, Douglas, Darby and possibly Robinson will essentially be fighting for two roster spots, with the losers being forced to bide their time for an opportunity to shine on the bench.

Now, the team could ultimately decide to go young and allow presumably Jones, arguably the team’s most physically gifted cornerback, to fill in the other outside cornerback position, with Darby shifting into the slot, the team will only have Darby under contract for one more season, and he will likely want to test the open market for another chance to start outside. It may be disappointing that Darby likely won’t have a long-term future with the team after Roseman gave up such a lofty bounty to acquire him during the preseason, it’s more important that the team fields the best 11 guys on any given down, and to me at least, Robinson has proven himself to be one of those 11 players.

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For better or for worse, Robinson has proven himself to be a pretty bad outside cornerback, but an incredibly effective inside defender, and 30 year old from Miami, Florida appears to be completely content finishing out his career in the slot. While he probably won’t want to sign another one year deal, especially after all of the success he had this season, the team could likely lock Robinson up on the same three-year, $13.5 million deal he signed with the Colts in 2016, before being cut after one, largely unimpressive season.

Though resigning Robinson would lock up some salary cap space that many may feel is superfluous with so many other young, talented players on the roster, committing $4.5 million a year to arguably the best slot cornerback in the league seems like a bargain.

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Simply put, teams don’t win by letting talent walk out the door, and if the Eagles want to continue to compete for championships like they will in two short weeks year-in and year-out, they should strongly consider resigning Patrick Robinson this offseason to maintain their secondary’s continuity.