Jaguars have to use in-house options to replace Allen Robinson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The loss of receiver Allen Robinson for the season with a torn ACL is obviously a huge blow for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but there are few options available outside of what's already on the roster to replace his production.

His injury also clouds his future with the team because 2017 was the final year of his rookie contract.

Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns will step into the role of being the Jaguars' top two receivers. Hurns is one of only four players in franchise history to have a 1,000-yard receiving season, which he did in 2015, but he's coming off a disappointing 2016.

Last season Hurns dropped six passes (the same number he dropped in his first two seasons combined), had a career-low 35 receptions, and battled a hamstring injury that kept him off the field for the final five games.

Lee had battled injuries through his first two seasons but stayed healthy in 2016 and caught 63 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns and averaged 30.3 yards on 18 kickoff returns. He was arguably the Jaguars' best player last season because Robinson's per-catch average dropped more than 5 yards from 2015-16.

Veteran Arrelious Benn, one of the team's core special teams players, will most certainly become more of a factor as a receiver.

After those three, however, the Jaguars don't have a player on the roster who has caught a pass in a game. Undrafted rookie Keelan Cole played against Houston and was targeted once but Blake Bortles' pass was broken up. The only other receiver on the roster is undrafted rookie Amba Etta-Tawo, who is on the practice squad.

That means the Jaguars are likely in the market for another receiver, but there aren't many options available.

Victor Cruz, who played for Jaguars executive VP of football ops Tom Coughlin in New York, doesn't appear to be an option after he suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale while playing for Chicago.

Other free agent receivers available include Vincent Jackson (who is now a restauranteur in St. Petersburg, Florida), Eddie Royal and Stevie Johnson. They're recognizable names but won't offer much in terms of production.

The bottom line is that the Jaguars are better off trying to accelerate the learning curve for Cole and Etta-Tawo than finding someone off the street to try and replace Robinson.

Robinson's injury does complicate his future with the Jaguars. He was entering the final year of his rookie contract and the sides did have preliminary discussions before the season began but that's obviously on hold now.

It's unlikely Robinson will be able to command a big-money deal without leverage of playing well in 2017, but he still could work out a longer deal for lesser money. Or even sign a one-year, prove-it deal like Alshon Jeffery did with Philadelphia.

A more likely scenario is the Jaguars use the franchise tag on Robinson in 2018. The tag number for receivers this season is $15.7 million and is projected to be slightly higher in 2018. That's fully guaranteed money and it would give Robinson a chance to prove he's healthy and earn a longer-term deal next year.