clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL free agency 2023: Patriots confident James Robinson will return to his pre-injury form, contract details show

New England signed the running back to a two-year deal in free agency.

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New England Patriots shook up their running back position in free agency. Instead of re-signing four-year veteran Damien Harris, who has since joined the Buffalo Bills, the team opted to bring James Robinson on board.

An undrafted rookie free agent in 2020, Robinson entered the offseason as a restricted free agent. He was not tendered by his previous team, the New York Jets, which allowed him to enter the open market. The Patriots picked him up via a two-year deal — one that can be seen as a vote of confidence in the 24-year-old.

A look at the contract structure, as reported by salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, illustrates this:

James Robinson: Contract details

Base salary: $1.01 million (incl. $250,000 guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $500,000
Roster bonus: $340,000
Workout bonus: $50,000
Salary cap hit: $1.78 million

Base salary: $1.625 million
Signing bonus proration: $500,000
Roster bonus: $425,000
Workout bonus: $50,000
Salary cap hit: $2.6 million

The Patriots gave Robinson $1.25 million in guarantees as part of his deal: his $1 million signing bonus prorated over the length of the deal, plus $250,000 tied to his 2023 salary. While that alone will not make him a true lock to be on the roster this fall, it would be a surprise if he wasn’t.

New England is therefore showing a lot of confidence that the former rookie free agent will be able to return to the pre-injury form he showed over the first two years of his career. Robinson, after all, was impressive in 2020 and 2021 with the Jacksonville Jaguars: he had 1,414 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns as a rookie, followed by 989 yards and eight scores a year later.

However, his sophomore campaign came to an abrupt end in December: Robinson tore his Achilles tendon and as a result played only a minor role in 2022. The Jaguars eventually decided to trade him to New York for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.

Robinson touched the ball 31 times over four games as a Jet, gaining 90 yards and finding the end zone once. The Patriots, however, seemingly do not believe his 2022 production is representative of what he can offer — and his contract confirms this.