Laurent Robinson Follows Familiar Path with the Jaguars

July 27, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laurent Robinson (81) runs during the first afternoon of training camp practice at Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

The Jacksonville Jaguars have always had to search for wide receivers. Laurent Robinson is one of the latest subjects in this ongoing quest. Some fans are disappointed that the team's top free agent acquisition is going into the final week of the preseason with only one reception for 7 yards. That is understandable. How many times before this season have fans asked, "Why have the Jaguars always struggled finding wide receivers?"

To this point in franchise history, the drafting of the position has been an unmitigated disaster. The most prolific receiver drafted by the Jaguars was Reggie Williams. His 189 receptions and 2322 yards lead all of the other players drafted at the position. Reggie, Matt Jones, and R. Jay Soward are commonly thought of as draft busts. Mike Thomas and Cecil Shorts are still working on their legacy. Others such as Mike Sims-Walker, Ernest Wilford, Reggie Barlow, and Alvis Whitted failed to distinguish themselves during their careers.

However, Justin Blackmon drafted 5th overall in this year's draft, has been impressive so far this preseason and fans already are hoping he will turn out to be the best of the bunch.

Free agent wide receivers have had more mixed results.

Without a doubt, Jimmy Smith is the greatest Jaguars receiver. He was a street-free agent trying to save his career when Tom Coughlin signed him in 1995. His 862 receptions and 12,287 receiving yards dwarf the rest of the team's receiving leaders. Other street-free agent receivers have made the team without much success.

Unrestricted free agency has brought in many other contributors, but only one long-term, productive option - Keenan McCardell. Signed in 1996, McCardell's 499 receptions and 6393 yards set the mark that all other unrestricted free agents have tried to match, but have fallen woefully short of realizing.

Robinson is the latest of the unrestricted free agent receivers that will try to justify his own signing. Frankly, it won't take much in the way of prolonged production to rise on the all-time list.

Here is a list, after Smith and McCardell, of the other free agent receivers all Jaguars fans hope Robinson will surpass:

Player

From

To

Games

Receptions

Receiving Yards

Dennis Northcutt

2007

2008

29

88

1146

Troy Edwards

2003

2004

29

85

1020

Torry Holt

2009

2009

15

51

722

Bobby Shaw

2002

2002

16

44

525

Andre Rison

1996

1996

10

34

458

Ernest Givins

1995

1995

9

29

280

Kevin Johnson

2003

2003

6

17

253

Sean Dawkins

2001

2001

16

20

234

Matthew Hatchette

2003

2003

6

15

203

Patrick Johnson

2002

2002

9

9

187

Jerry Porter

2008

2008

10

11

181

A look at the list above makes it clear why fans are worried. When Northcutt is your number 3 all-time free agent wide receiver you have learned not to expect too much from that breed. Northcutt signed a 5-year $17 million contract with the Jaguars in 2007.

None of the free agents lasted more than 2 years with the team. If Robinson can stay on the team until 2014 he will be the biggest free agent wide receiver success in 16 years.

Robinson’s deal this March was a 5-year, 32.5 million deal so clearly the Jaguars expect him to rise to the top of this list quickly.

Last year was Robinson’s break-out year with the Dallas Cowboys. He recorded 54 receptions, 858 yards and 11 touchdowns made him a top free agent target for the Jaguars. So before we start giving up hope, let’s remember where Robinson was at this point last year.

Signed as a free agent to the San Diego Chargers, Robinson had only had one reception for 18 yards through the first 3 preseason games.

Sound familiar?

Even though he had a great fourth preseason game where he caught 6 passes, he was cut by the Chargers. Dallas then signed him on September 7 and then cut him 6 days later after a hamstring injury that he sustained in his first practice with the Cowboys. It wasn’t until September 20 that they signed him again due to mounting injuries suffered at the wide receiver position.

Robinson almost missed out on his chance to shine last year because of his poor showing in the first three preseason games.

Robinson is definitely following a familar path so far this preseason. Let's hope it's the path of his outstanding 2011 season instead of the path taken by so many other Jaguars free agents.

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