After four up-and-down seasons in Detroit, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson could be headed towards free agency for the first time in his NFL career. He could land in a completely new city, earn a significant pay raise from his current rookie contract, and find a locker room foreign to the one he has gotten accustomed to since his days at Alabama.
But with free agency still over three months away, and the season barely in the rear-view mirror, Robinson isn’t thinking about any of that.
“Honestly, I’m just taking it day-by-day,” Robinson said as he packed up his locker for potentially the last time in Detroit. “I’m not thinking (about) any of that right now. That happens in March, so I’m just taking it as, we’re not in the playoffs, so it sucks, so we’re here, and just going home.”
Robinson was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s started about half of the games. He hit a low in 2018 when he was a healthy scratch in the season opener, but rebounded quite nicely in the second half of the season. In fact, he had made such an impression that veteran teammate Ricky Jean Francois thought he’d eventually develop into a top-three run defender.
“He will be probably one of the top three run defender or d-linemen in the league,” Francois said a year ago. “He’s that special that he can do it. Now he just has to finish this season out great. Fourth year, now you have to take that big leap. Now you gotta make that improvement and be like the d-lineman that everyone knows he’s capable of being.”
But Robinson didn’t quite make that fourth-year jump. Injuries held him out of the final three games of the season, and prior to that, Robinson earned slightly above average grades as a run defender and struggled as a pass rusher. Robinson was modest in his self-assessment of 2019, as well.
“I think I did alright,” Robinson said. “I think I needed to finish with everyone else here so we can get a lot more wins and get in the playoffs.”
At this point, it’s unclear if Robinson is in the team’s future plans. With Damon Harrison Sr.’s potential retirement hanging perilously over this franchise, Robinson’s value to the team may be more than expected. He’s undoubtedly the best run-defending defensive tackle they have outside of Snacks, and we know how much the team values run defenders.
So does Robinson want to return to the Lions?
“I mean, I love Detroit, but just taking it day-by-day right now. Just enjoying time with the guys.”
We’ll have to wait until March to find out how things play out for Robinson and other potential free agents.