The Dallas Cowboys uncovered arguably the greatest free agent find of 2011 in receiver Laurent Robinson. After being signed following Miles Austin’s injury in Week 2, Robinson posted career highs in receptions (54), yards (858) and touchdowns (11) in 14 games. Those 11 touchdowns are best for fourth in the NFL and lead the Cowboys. Now a free agent, Robinson says he wants to stay in Dallas and the Cowboys would be crazy to let him get away.
“This is where I want to be,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m the No. 1, 2 or 3. Money doesn’t drive me to play this game. I play because I like to have fun. I think I have a good fit here with the Cowboys.”
Indeed, Robinson gave Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo his most reliable red zone target this season, even ahead of Dez Bryant. Robinson had three multiple touchdown games in 2011 and a majority of his 11 scoring grabs came inside the red zone.
Although he might be the third receiver on the depth chart, Robinson acknowledged he’s fine with that. Robinson’s didn’t decrease at all even when he, Austin and Bryant were all healthy. The fact Robinson wants to stay in Dallas is a majority of the ball because he’ll undoubtedly be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason.
The Cowboys can’t officially begin contract negotiations with Robinson until free agency begins the second week of March. There’s been no word out of Valley Ranch at this point, but Robinson indicated on Friday that the Cowboys have already expressed interest in bringing him back.
“They just said they were proud of what I did for the team and hopefully they can bring me back,” Robinson said. “I’m just waiting for free agency to start. They can’t negotiate with my agent yet. I’m just waiting around to see what happens.”
As injury-prone as Austin and Bryant are, Robinson is by far the best insurance available on the market. Granted, he’ll probably want more than the league-minimum $685,000 he played for in 2011 regardless of what he says, he wants to be in Dallas in 2012 and that’s over half the battle of keeping him.
The Cowboys would be nuts to let Robinson get away; he was the team’s most reliable receiver this season, so he’s worth way more to Dallas than insurance for Austin and Bryant. Even though he says money doesn’t matter, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones better reach into those 3-mile-deep pockets of his and pay the man.
If Dallas lets Robinson get away, he’ll haunt the Cowboys until he retires with a team like the Washington Redskins, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears or San Francisco 49ers. All of those teams need a quality receiver and he’s the best that might be available. Jones and the Cowboys better prevent that…or else.
Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin