Allen Robinson Trade Revisited: Who Were the Real Winners and Losers of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams Trade?

Allen Robinson disappointed with the Los Angeles Rams. Should the Pittsburgh Steelers have traded for him, or did the Rams get away with one?

After a disappointing season with the Los Angeles Rams, Allen Robinson was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he hopes to revive his NFL career one last time. The Steelers have potential at receiver but could round out their roster, while the Rams need to plan for the future.

But given the small trade compensation, it’s clear that the rest of the NFL doesn’t have high hopes for Robinson. We go over whether it made sense for the Rams to take on extra cap or for the Steelers to add an unknown to their receiving room.

Allen Robinson Trade Details

Robinson was traded on April 21, 2023, about a week before the NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers received:

  • WR Allen Robinson
  • 2023 seventh-round pick, No. 251 overall (C Spencer Anderson)

The Los Angeles Rams received:

  • 2023 seventh-round pick, No. 234 overall (S Jason Taylor II)

The Steelers renegotiated Robinson’s contract after trading for him, putting together a $15 million contract with a small signing bonus of $3.8 million and reducing his 2023 and 2024 cap hits by $1.9 million and $3.8 million.

The Rams took on a $21.5 million cap hit from trading Robinson, making his contract the largest component of the Rams’ enormous $74 million dead cap charge for 2023.

Players Involved in the Allen Robinson Trade

Robinson was not swapped for any players, meaning the only players involved were himself and the rookies drafted with the picks — center Spencer Anderson and safety Jason Taylor II.

Winners and Losers of the Allen Robinson Trade

Grading the Allen Robinson Trade: Steelers Give Kenny Pickett a Weapon While Rams Continue Rebuilding

The Rams made the trade in order to clear up cap space in 2024 and 2025, where Robinson would take up about $18 million and $5.6 million despite not being on the roster for the 2025 campaign. He was due to make $18 million in the 2023 season.

That means the Rams only increased their cap liability by $3 million when they traded in part because the Steelers took on some of the guaranteed money. The Rams, therefore, traded up in the seventh round in order to change when they would have free cap space, though it comes at the cost of having one less receiver on their roster.

Given that the Rams are engaging in a strategy of building the next Super Bowl window instead of winning now, it’s difficult to say that they truly lost. All things being equal, this would be a bad trade. But in the context of the Rams’ goals and strategy, it makes sense for them.

It may not make sense to call them a winner, but it’s not exactly accurate to call them a loser.

As for the Steelers, it’s difficult to predict what they’ll get. Robinson was a remarkably productive receiver in difficult circumstances, earning over 1,000 yards in Chicago in 2019 and 2020 with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback and 1,400 yards in 2015 with Blake Bortles under center.

On the other hand, Robinson has underperformed expectations as well. He followed up the 1,400-yard season with an 883-yard campaign and only earned 754 yards in his first year in Chicago. In his final year with the Bears, he could only muster 410 yards and followed that up with a 339-yard outing in Los Angeles.

Injuries don’t explain all of it — his worst yardage-per-game average came in 2022, only generating 33.9 yards in each outing, and he had earned only 34.2 yards per game the year prior. And the injuries present their own concerns; Robinson has been on injured reserve three times in his career and has racked up multiple other injuries besides.

He has been placed on IR for a foot fracture, an ACL tear, and another foot fracture. He has pulled, torn, or sprained his hamstring, groin, and patellar tendons. He has sustained other injuries, too, like concussions, rib bruises, and leg bruises.

Not all of those injuries are likely to recur, but the sum total of them creates a high likelihood of future injury, with the possibility that Robinson could produce a full season averaging anywhere between 30 and 80 yards per game and could be injured at any moment.

Over his career, Robinson has produced 61.3 receiving yards per game, which projects to 1,047 yards over the course of a 17-game season. The upside is not much more than that, but the downside is significantly larger.

Nevertheless, it’s a low-risk move for the Steelers, who only lost a little bit of draft capital, trading down 17 spots in the seventh round for a shot at providing another legitimate receiving threat for second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.

On a receiving corps with George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, any additional help is appreciated, though now it means that all three projected starters are incredibly volatile producers.

As for Robinson, it helps that he goes to an organization with a strong culture and a good head coach, but he might find himself in another bad quarterback situation.

Pickett hasn’t demonstrated completely what kind of QB he is yet, but the possibility remains that he could once again be a below-average passer — meaning Robinson would play out the rest of his career, including college and high school, having never played with a decent quarterback.

A new environment and a new contract is probably a net positive, but there were likely better places to be traded to.

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