A’Shawn Robinson makes Rams’ interior defensive line scary deep
The Rams signed defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to help fill a void. Instead, they wound up with a surplus.
In March, with veteran Michael Brockers seemingly on his way out the door to join the Baltimore Ravens, the Rams pursued Robinson as his replacement. They agreed to terms with the fifth-year pro and envisioned him starting alongside star tackle Aaron Donald.
But when Brockers’ deal with the Ravens fell through, the Rams re-signed the eight-year veteran.
Now, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Robinson is looking forward to playing with Donald, Brockers and young interior linemen such as Sebastian Joseph-Day and Greg Gaines.
“We can all just bring our own flavors to the game,” Robinson said Thursday during a videoconference with reporters.
Rams coach Sean McVay says the team wouldn’t have moved on from Brandin Cooks if it didn’t believe Josh Reynolds could be a dynamic deep-ball threat.
Robinson, 25, grew up in Texas, played in college at Alabama and spent his first four NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions. But he is no stranger to Southern California.
During the last two offseasons, he worked out at a Thousand Oaks training facility, where he got to know Donald and safety John Johnson.
This week, in virtual meetings that are part of the Rams’ offseason program, he has met the rest of his new teammates through a computer screen.
“It’s been cool to get to know everybody,” Robinson said from Arizona.
First-year coordinator Brandon Staley is overseeing a remade defense that will feature many new starters. After the 2019 season, the Rams cut or watched several key players from last season’s unit leave as free agents, including linebackers Cory Littleton and Clay Matthews, edge rusher Dante Fowler and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.
And Brockers, 29, also appeared to be gone after agreeing to a three-year, $30-million contract with the Ravens.
“We had identified some guys in the instance if you lose Brockers, all right, who are the guys that you feel like have the body type, the versatility to play across the front with some power, some athleticism, the ability to be able to work edges on people?” coach Sean McVay said.
The Rams agreed to terms with Robinson on a two-year, $17-million contract, with $9.5-million guaranteed, according to overthecap.com.
Sixteen days later, the Ravens backed away from their deal with Brockers because of concerns about an ankle injury he suffered in the season finale. The Rams welcomed him back with a front-loaded three-year contract with $14 million in guarantees.
The Rams find a way to bring back free agent Michael Brockers, once regarded as too pricey to keep, after his agreement with the Ravens fell through.
“You couldn’t feel better about the interior depth of our defensive line,” McVay said.
Robinson is eager to return to the postseason. In 2015, he helped Alabama win a national title. The Lions selected Robinson in the second round of the 2016 draft, and the Lions made the playoffs his rookie season. But not since.
“I want that experience back again,” he said, “so whatever I need to do to get that I’m going to do that.”
Robinson is not the only former Alabama player on the roster. The Rams selected outside linebacker Terrell Lewis in the third round.
Robinson said he spoke with Lewis several times in the last few years and connected with him again by phone after Lewis was drafted. Rookies cannot begin the offseason program until May 11.
Until then, Robinson will continue getting to know his new teammates — and coaches.
Robinson played for Nick Saban at Alabama. Robinson was asked about differences between Saban and McVay.
“Coach Saban still has that excitement and that joy about things, still has that joking factor,” Robinson said. “Coach McVay, he got little bit more smile to him.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.