Offensive lineman Greg Robinson landed in Detroit after starting tackle Taylor Decker was lost with a shoulder injury.
A strong season from Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick in 2014, not only would be good news for the Lions, particularly quarterback Matthew Stafford, but for the former Auburn star’s wallet, too.
The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson, acquired in a June trade, is one of 15 NFL players with “everything on the line” for 2017, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, who writes that a strong season could mean a minimum $30 million payday.
Robinson is off to a strong start with the Lions which, if he keeps it up, would bode well for him in the offseason, Barnwell writes. Robinson, who will make $3.32 million this season, could make $33 million a “breakout” deal, according to Barnwell.
“Robinson was a disaster after being taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft,” Barnwell writes. “... Robinson has looked much improved during the preseason and held up in Week 1 against (Arizona’s) Chandler Jones. The Lions have no spot for him at tackle in the long term and probably will need their franchise tag (and cap space) for (defensive end) Ezekiel Ansah, meaning that Robinson will almost definitely hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. If he washes out, some team will take a flyer on his athleticism and draft pedigree.
“If Robinson looks like a solid left tackle, though, he’ll be a tantalizing option as a 25-year-old blindside protector. ... (He) would get a big deal.”
Also on Barnwell’s list is Pittsburgh Steelers running back and former Michigan State star Le’Veon Bell, who signed a one-year franchise tender for $12.1 million, but could make $50 million in a “breakout” deal next offseason.
“If Bell produces an MVP-caliber campaign and the Steelers can’t justify paying Bell $15 million per year,” writes Barnwell, “there will be a bidding war for a 26-year-old back with Bell’s unique talents in free agency.”