The Laurent Robinson situation

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
10:11
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Dallas Cowboys fans, by and large, seem to want their team to re-sign wide receiver Laurent Robinson. He played very well for the team during Miles Austin's injury absences and even after Austin was back. Tony Romo threw 11 of his 31 touchdown passes to Robinson. Only two wide receivers (and one tight end) in the entire league caught more touchdowns. He says he wants to come back. The team says it wants to have him back. It all makes sense, in the abstract.

But as Todd Archer points out, due to the rules and conditions under which Robinson was signed last year, the Cowboys can't re-sign him before the new league year and full-on free agency open March 13. They can talk contract parameters with his agent, but Todd also wisely points out that they probably don't want to give the agent a figure he can go out and shop:
"The conversation with him goes more like, 'What are you thinking and then we'll think about it,'" executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

So, theoretically, if there's a team out there that loves Robinson and thinks he fits its system and wants to throw a bunch of money at him on March 13, the Cowboys are probably going to lose him. While neither Austin nor Dez Bryant is extremely costly, the Cowboys have a lot of needs that are more pressing than No. 3 wide receiver. If Robinson is going to get good No. 2 wide receiver money from some other team, my guess is the Cowboys will let him go.

What will help them keep him is the potentially flooded wide receiver free-agent market. The odds are that Robinson isn't going to be able to cash in his breakout season to the same extent he might have if he weren't competing for teams' affections with the likes of Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson, Robert Meachem, Reggie Wayne, Mario Manningham, Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson and Wes Welker.

It's possible the Cowboys and Robinson get something reasonable worked out and he returns as a very good No. 3 wide receiver. But if his price starts to go up much beyond that range, don't be surprised if they let him walk and just try and find next year's Robinson the same way they found last year's.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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