Patrick Robinson retiring, adding to New Orleans Saints' CB dilemma

METAIRIE, La. -- Veteran cornerback Patrick Robinson has decided to retire after 11 seasons, adding to the New Orleans Saints' pressing need at the position.

Robinson, 33, began his career as the Saints' first-round draft pick in 2010 and won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in arguably his career-best season in 2017. He also spent time with the Chargers and Colts between his two stints in New Orleans.

Robinson was actually a lead contender to be the Saints' starting No. 2 cornerback this year after the team released veteran Janoris Jenkins during the offseason. And coach Sean Payton acknowledged that he didn't see Robinson's decision coming before they talked for about 30 minutes on Tuesday morning.

Not surprisingly, Payton said the cornerback position is still a "must" after he declared it a position that they must add to at the start of training camp.

"We'll keep working the rosters, and there'll be a cut-down [that makes other players available around the league]. In the meantime, we're working closely with the guys we have here," Payton said of a cornerback group that includes No. 1 starter Marshon Lattimore, newly signed veteran slot cornerback Brian Poole and outside starting contenders Ken Crawley, Prince Amukamara and rookie Paulson Adebo.

As for Robinson, Payton said, "He's played in this league a long time. ... You know, he's had a great career, he's been smart with his money, and it's something that deep down inside he felt."

"He felt comfortable with his decision, and certainly we respect that. And he'll get on to his next chapter, and we'll go from there," Payton said. "He doesn't want to let anyone down, and he just felt like in his heart it was the right time, and I respect that."

Payton said Robinson was not dealing with an injury when he decided to retire. However, injuries did hamper his career in recent years after he re-signed with the Saints in 2018. He missed most of the 2018 season with a broken ankle and also missed four games at the end of the 2020 season with a hamstring injury.

Robinson was due to receive a $2 million base salary in 2021. The Saints will save more than $1 million in salary-cap space once his cap cost is replaced by a minimum-salary player. It's unclear if Robinson's $600,000 roster bonus will be affected by his decision.

Robinson finishes his career with 16 interceptions, 83 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks and 338 tackles in 123 games in the regular season, with 62 starts. He also appeared in eight career playoff games with one interception -- which he returned 50 yards for a touchdown during the Eagles' Super Bowl run.