Spoiler alert: things are going very poorly for the New Orleans Saints in training camp. That said, they’ve now just gotten worse, thanks to what they heard from starting cornerback Patrick Robinson this week. Robinson, 33, has informed the team he’ll forego suiting up in 2021 and instead retire entirely from the NFL. His decision widens the canyon of need at the cornerback position in New Orleans, with the regular-season opener against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers right around the corner on Sept. 12.
The news arrives only one day after the Saints discovered Pro Bowl kicker Wil Lutz will miss significant time after needing to undergo surgery to repair a core muscle injury, and that was on the same day All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas — who infuriated the team by waiting until June to have ankle surgery that will sideline him indefinitely — fired a shot back across the bow, implying the team is attempting to “damage” his reputation.
All of this (and more) happening in the first year following the retirement of future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees increases the Saints’ level of difficulty exponentially in their mission to avoid cratering in 2021.
Robinson’s retirement means the Saints are losing their starter opposite Marshon Lattimore, and recently signing veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara can’t be viewed as an instant fix here. The better solution might be waiting for them in Jacksonville, where rumors are swirling of the Jaguars being open to trading former top 10 pick C.J. Henderson, and reports having the Saints as a lead horse in that race.
It’s unknown if they caught wind of Robinson’s decision and then potentially reached out to the Jaguars (assuming the reports of their interest in Henderson are true), or if Robinson’s decision caught them off guard. That’s neither here nor there at this point, however, because more questions are now raised that must be answered, and expeditiously.
Robinson is a former first-round pick of the Saints in 2010 who played out his rookie contract before going on a bit of an NFL tour — spending time with the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles before returning to New Orleans in 2018 on a four-year, $20 million contract. He suffered a broken ankle that season and missed all but one start, but worked his way back into being a key player in 2020 — gathering two interceptions last season — before nursing injury again in December. He’d be activated from injured reserve in the playoff win over the Chicago Bears but was inactive in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He leaves the team, and league, with one year remaining on his deal in New Orleans.