Josh Robinson is staying with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which means opposing kick returners will be staying in check.
The Buccaneers continued a busy opening weekend in free agency on Sunday by re-signing cornerback Josh Robinson, one of the best special teams players in the NFL, to a two-year deal. Robinson's impressive work on kickoff and punt coverage in 2016 made him very valuable to Tampa Bay, especially after fellow special teams ace Russell Shepard departed for the Carolina Panthers.
The top photos of Robinson from the 2016 season.
Robinson was the Buccaneers' best punt-return "gunner" in 2016, particularly after Shepard began playing more snaps at receiver and fewer on special teams. Robinson led the Bucs and tied for ninth in the NFL with 12 kick-coverage tackles but also made an impact by repeatedly downing Bryan Anger punts inside the 20. Thanks largely to the additions of Anger and Robinson, the Buccaneers improved from 27th in the NFL net punting average in 2015 to third in 2016.
Both Anger and Robinson joined the Buccaneers on one-year deals last March. Recognizing the massive improvement on special teams, the Buccaneers gave Anger a contract extension just before the end of the 2016 season. Now they've got Robinson locked in, too, emphasizing the importance of the "third" phase of the game.
Robinson also offers the Buccaneers' depth at a defensive position where it is often difficult to find. Though he played only a handful of snaps on defense in 2016, the former Minnesota Vikings started 21 games at cornerback from 2012-14, his first three years in the league, before missing much of 2015 due to injury. A third-round pick by Minnesota out of Central Florida, Robinson recorded 40 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed in 2014, his most recent extended playing time on defense.
The Buccaneers have now re-signed five of the 17 players from their 2016 roster who were due to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league year on Thursday. Defensive end Will Gholston and safety Chris Conte both agreed to new deals before the market opened while Robinson, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga have all returned since.