Analyzing the Steelers trade for wide receiver Allen Robinson

Sep 18, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Allen Robinson II (1)
Sep 18, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Allen Robinson II (1) / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers do not make trades for players very often; however, last week, they traded 7th-round draft picks and assumed $5 million of Allen Robinson’s contract with the Rams. It has worked well in those rare instances when the Steelers traded for players. Case in point they traded with the Rams for Jerome Bettis in 1996, and in 2019 they traded with the Dolphins to acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick.

No one will argue those were bad trades. The Steelers pulled the trigger again late last week, traded with the Rams, and acquired Allen Robinson. No one saw this trade coming, seemingly out of the blue. Unlike the aforementioned trades, the trade for Robinson is a head-scratcher.

Is Allen Robinson washed up?

The issue at hand here is how the trade helps the Steelers. It’s not that Robinson is not a good wide receiver; he has had three seasons with 1000-plus receiving yards in his career and amassed 43 touchdowns leading the league with 14 touchdowns in 2015. Then in 2021, his production level dropped off with Chicago. He went to the Rams for the 2022 season.

In fairness, the decrease in production had more to do with injuries. In 2021 he suffered a grade 2 hamstring injury, and in 2022 he suffered a pedal foot fracture ending his season. You can blame his lack of production on injuries; however, his production had been trailing off even before the injuries.

In 2020 he got injured on November 8th but only missed four games. However, after the injury, he only had 8 receptions for 71 yards. Thus despite finishing with  410 yards, 339 came before the injury. In 2022 he got injured on November 18th; nearly three months into the season, he only had 339 before his season ended.

Injuries aside, the Bears well were in rebuilding mode, and in 2022 the Rams were a mess coming off their Superbowl season. Nevertheless, when healthy his last two seasons were nothing spectacular.

How could Allen Robinson help the Steelers?

What did the Steelers see in Robinson, a player heading into his 10th season? Ok, sure, he did have two injury-plagued seasons, but he is still talented and opposing teams must respect his ability. They must think that despite his two bad seasons, he still has a bit of gas in the tank and can still be a threat after catching the ball.

Putting him out there with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin with an empty set could open up the passing game quite a bit and give Kenny Pickett another very capable target. Another consideration here is that he may not put up stats any better than last year, but his mere presence helps Johnson or Pickens get open more often.

Then you might want to take into account the Steelers offensive line. They signed a few linemen that potentially upgrade their offensive line immediately. If they draft a tackle and the offensive line is in sync starting in September, Kenny Pickett will have more time in the pocket and more protection improving the passing game. Hence Robinson’s potential to still be a playmaker may have been the smart move to make.  

Plus, the acquisition of Allen Robinson is, in many ways, a major upgrade to their loss of Steve Simms, and they were able to land him for only $5 million by swapping 7th-round draft picks. The Steelers figured it this way if he comes to Pittsburgh and rebounds, snags 4-5 touchdowns, and 500 plus receiving yards, then it would be considered a genius move. On the flip side, if he flames out, then they did not expend any draft capital and got him at a bargain basement price.

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It will be interesting to see if the trade culminates in dividends in the upcoming season; we will have to wait and see. Come this December, we will either be posting articles saying Omar Khan robbed the Rams blind or posting articles wondering what Omar Khan was thinking.