JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The decision to trade James Robinson happened quickly, was the best for all parties and doesn’t leave the Jaguars in a bind at the running back position, Doug Pederson said on Wednesday.
That’s the nature of the NFL and Pederson feels comfortable with where the Jaguars are at the running back position now. Travis Etienne has become the team’s No. 1 back and there’s confidence that JaMychal Hasty and Snoop Conner can keep the ground game moving forward with a trip to London to face the Broncos on deck Sunday at 9:30 a.m. That game will be televised live on WJXT Channel 4.
“I’m not going to get into all the details with it, but I’ve got a lot of respect for James and what he’s done and what he’s done for me and the organization,” Pederson said. “I wish him well. It’s an opportunity for him. Obviously, the Jets lost a running back, and it’s honestly the nature of our business. Teams begin to search, and we got a call on him, and made the decision to move on.”
While the third-year player goes from the 2-5 Jaguars to the 5-2 and suddenly contending Jets, the decision to deal Robinson was a bit disjointed.
Robinson didn’t have any offensive touches in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. Pederson said after the game and again Monday that Robinson was dealing with some knee issues. He reiterated that Robinson was part of Jacksonville’s offensive plans. Hours later, the Jaguars dealt Robinson to the Jets for a conditional sixth-round draft pick that could turn into a fifth-rounder.
Some of the reasoning makes sense. Robinson, an undrafted free agent in the final year of his contract, was never going to supplant an Etienne-type player. Etienne has gotten a larger role by the game and handled that by showcasing his ability.
Etienne, a first-round pick last year, missed his rookie season because of a Lisfranc injury and was an unknown going into the 2022 season. But he’s emerged as Jacksonville’s top threat out of the backfield and scored his first NFL touchdown in the loss to the Giants. Etienne also rushed for 114 yards in the game, a career-high. He has 415 rushing yards and a touchdown on 68 carries and is also a threat in the receiving game (11 catches, 128 yards).
Robinson was a fan favorite and was one of the best undrafted free agent signings in team history. Robinson rushed for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns with the Jaguars, the bulk of those (1,070 yards, 7 TDs) coming in his rookie season. Robinson tore his Achilles during a game against the Jets last season but rehabbed himself back and onto the field for Week 1 this year. Pederson said that the Jaguars weren’t actively shopping Robinson.
“No. One thing that I know that you don’t know is that there’s a lot of information. I’m not going to divulge all the information; it’s for me to know and for us to know and all the details on that. I went through this in 2016. We traded Sam Bradford, our starting quarterback, to Minnesota Week 1 of the regular season and went with the rookie quarterback in Carson (Wentz). I’ve been through this before. This is just the way our league is right now. Teams are constantly searching.”