Jaguars designate franchise tag on OT Cam Robinson to keep him from entering free agency

CB CJ Henderson rehabbing after undergoing surgery for labrum injury

John Reid
Florida Times-Union
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Offensive lineman Cam Robinson runs agility drills during his rookie year. The Jaguars designated the franchise tag for Robinson for the 2021 season.

In a virtual call Tuesday, Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said the available talent at left tackle in free agency is not that strong and offensive line coach George Warhop felt strongly about Cam Robinson's future and development.

So instead of allowing Robinson to hit the open market in free agency, Meyer confirmed the Jaguars are designating the franchise tag to keep him around for the upcoming 2021 season.

Designating the one-year, franchise tag, Robinson's salary is expected to be around $13.6 million.

''His ceiling is very high and I've studied him very much,'' Meyer said. ''I spent some time with him.  We feel that the way this free agency is moving, that left tackle position as always, but even more now this year from hearing from the guys that's been in the NFL, this is a tough year. We feel that what's out there and with coaching, culture, and development Cam has a lot of talent.''

And Meyer did not rule out that possibility of trying to work toward signing to an extension, saying our "intent is to have Cam playing for the Jaguars for awhile."

Robinson was among 10 players who designated with a franchise tag that included - Carolina offensive tackle Taylor Moyon, Chicago and former Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, Denver safety Justin Simmons, New Orleans safety Marcus Williams, New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams, New York Jets safety Marcus Maye, Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin and Washington offensive guard  Brandon Scherff.

It was Meyer's and general manager Trent Baalke's first critical decision regarding the building of the roster for this upcoming season. NFL teams had until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to designate players for the franchise tag.   

A second-round pick in 2017, Robinson has had difficulty developing his foot and hand techniques, along with missing significant time due to injuries. In 2018, Robinson missed all but two games after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Robinson ranked 63rd among all NFL offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus, with a grade of 61.8 this past season. In 16 games, Robinson allowed five sacks and five penalties. The Jaguars allowed the eighth-most sacks (44) in the league and were 29th in rushing (94.9).

It is the second consecutive season, the Jaguars have designated the franchise tag on a player. Last year, Yannick Ngakoue became the second Jaguars player since kicker Josh Scobee in 2012 to be designated with the franchise tag. However, Ngakoue refused to sign the tag that led to the Jaguars trading him to the Minnesota Vikings last August.

The Jaguars do not anticipate Robinson trying to force a trade by not signing the franchise tag like Ngakoue.

It also appears Meyer's preference is maintaining the continuity among his offensive line starters. Although starting left guard Andrew Norwell, who is set to make $12 million this season, reportedly declined to take a pay cut and the Jaguars could wound up trading him, Meyer appears to have him in his plans.

''I see him being part of the Jaguars and I want him to be part of the Jaguars. For me personally, I love the guy because I know him better than most,” Meyer said. ''He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached. He’s a guy that was the underdog when we got there at Ohio State. The offensive line at Ohio State was one of the worst in the Big 10, it became the best in the Big 10. He was a big part of it. I was not surprised to see him get a high free agency contract because he’s a grinder, he’s a worker, he’s a team guy, he’s a locker room guy.''

Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson (23) breaks up a fourth-down pass attempt to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) in his NFL debut in September.

Henderson rehabbing from labrum surgery

In his first extended availability since January, Meyer said cornerback CJ Henderson is recovering from labrum surgery. Henderson was the Jaguars' first-round pick out of Florida last season who played in only eight games and had one interception and six pass breakups after going on season-ending injured reserve in November with a groin injury.

Meyer also raved about defensive end Josh Allen, wanting him to remain in Jacksonville as long as he can have him.  Allen tweeted in response shortly afterward that the feeling is mutual.

With the free agency signing period starting March 17 and the Jaguars having 11 picks in the upcoming April 29-May 1 NFL Draft, Meyer said a priority that needs fixing first is the defensive front and the secondary needs to be revamped in a few spots. Offensively, Meyer said they need a big-play hit at receiver and the tight end room will have to be rebuilt. 

Meyer didn't divulge much about the future of Gardner Minshew as a backup with the franchise other than to say, he was a guy that had some early success in Jacksonville he has spent some time with him, but not a lot.

''You always start at the quarterback position and we have the No. 1 pick and there's a lot of speculation out there that will be the first pick,'' Meyer said. ''So. No. 1 it's just making sure we have exactly the quarterback the way we want it.''

Staying in contact with Lawrence     

Meyer acknowledged that they have had a couple of Zoom calls with former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who the Jaguars are expected to select with the No. 1 overall pick.

Meyer said they have given their playbook to Lawrence to learn and they like where they are at with him. 

''We are doing that with several positions and more than one quarterback,'' Meyer said. ''We are allowed to do that. In the old days, you did that, and I sat in on them as a coach in college and you learn a lot about the team doing the evaluation and how thorough they are. Then, obviously, you learn about the player. That's essential to find out the starting point of the football acumen and how they are in learning and there's only one way.'' 

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