Laurent Robinson arrived at Valley Ranch as a name few knew, much less could pronounce.
Folks around these parts appreciate Robinson’s terrific contributions despite the Cowboys’ disappointing season. But he’s still under the radar nationally, which is why he topped a list of the league’s most underrated players compiled by Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz for ESPN Insider:
Schatz’s take on Robinson:
It's not easy to have a quiet season with a Dallas Cowboys team that's always under the media microscope, but Robinson managed it. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are the big-name receivers, but Robinson is the one who put up the biggest numbers. Not bad for a guy who wasn't even on the team when the season started. Robinson showed potential as a rookie with the 2007 Falcons, but struggled with injuries through another year in Atlanta and two more in St. Louis. The Chargers cut him during training camp, and he found his way to a Dallas team that needed a third receiver. The result: 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. That last number was third in the league for wide receivers. Robinson was thrown only seven more passes than Austin but gained 279 more yards.
As a result, Football Outsiders' DVOA metric (explained here) scored Robinson's season as 43.1 percent better than what we would expect from an average wide receiver. Robinson had the fifth-highest DVOA of the last 20 years for a player with a minimum of 60 pass targets. He actually was only third for this season, because Jordy Nelson and Malcom Floyd were also phenomenal and had the two highest ratings we've ever measured, but that shouldn't take away from the great season Robinson had.
Robinson was certainly one of the NFL’s most underpaid players last season, playing for the veteran minimum salary of $685,000. That will change soon.
Robinson is an unrestricted free agent. He’s made it clear that he’d love to stay with the Cowboys, but he’s due for a nice payday after that kind of production.