NFL Free-Agent Signings: Will Dallas Cowboys Regret Losing Laurent Robinson?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMarch 23, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01:  Laurent Robinson #81 of the Dallas Cowboys catches a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Laurent Robinson and the Dallas Cowboys seemed sure to put ink to paper once free agency began. Robinson told the Dallas Morning News that he loved playing for the Cowboys.

Apparently, he didn't love the Cowboys as much as he loved the money he could make playing elsewhere.

Robinson said in early February, "I love wearing this jersey. ... Hopefully, my dreams can come true and I can stay a Cowboy."

Alas, hardly any athlete has a dream that's serene as one colored green.

Robinson took money before love, signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years and $32.5 million, including $14 million. That's far more than any amount for which the Cowboys likely could have signed him.

Robinson had the best year of his five-year career in 2011. He has career highs in all categories. The Illinois State product was second on the Cowboys in receptions (54) and receiving yards (858), while leading the team in receiving touchdowns (11).

Robinson had two 100-yard games.

Last season, Robinson was the Cowboys' biggest deep threat. He caught 12 passes of 20 yards or more and five of 40 yards or more. He was key in spreading the field, as Miles Austin missed half the season with a hamstring injury and Dez Bryant also struggled through injury for part of the season.

Robinson was everything the Cowboys could ask for in a No. 3 receiver.

However, Jerry Jones shouldn't rue the loss. The Cowboys still have three very good pass-catchers in Jason Witten, Austin and Bryant. Witten is one of the five best tight ends in the NFL. When healthy, Austin and Bryant are elite wide receivers. Both Austin and Bryant can be the deep threat Robinson was, as they've shown.

Austin had 21 catches of 20 yards or more in 2009 and 17 in 2010. Bryant had 17 catches of 20 yards or more last season.

As for the No. 3 receiver role, the Cowboys can easily develop one. They did it with Robinson. They've developed other receivers into good pass-catchers like Austin and Patrick Crayton.

Watching Robinson go on to Jacksonville is sad. He did a great job for the Cowboys, hooking up with Tony Romo on some great connections. Nevertheless, the Cowboys will be able to succeed in the passing game without him.