The up-and-down career of former first-rounder Koren Robinson is about to take another up - with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers today announced that they have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the troubled receiver. He is expected to sign the contract, believed to be for the veteran's minimum of $545,000 per season, tonight at Packers headquarters.
The contract is believed to have protection for the Packers in case Robinson's legal problems resurface. The Packers waited on signing Robinson until after the season began so they wouldn't be obligated to pay him a full season's salary in case he is suspended by the National Football League.
“I can assure you that I’m going to give the Packers 110% of the best of Koren Robinson there is,” Robinson told reporters late this afternoon.
Robinson was released by the Minnesota Vikings in August, just 10 days after he was charged with drunken driving and fleeing police. On Aug. 15, Robinson's blue BMW was caught on radar going more than 100 mph in a 55-mph zone. According to police, when they tried to pull him over, Robinson refused to stop and a high-speed chase ensued. The criminal complaint said Robinson's blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.11 percent.
It wasn't Robinson's first brush with the law for substance abuse. In 2005, Robinson pleaded guilty to DUI while with the Seattle Seahawks. And in 2004, he was suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Robinson declined to talk about his issues with alcohol, though, he said he is undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse. He and Thompson have spoken at length in the past few days, and it appears that Robinson is committed to staying away from alcohol and focusing on football.
"I know I’ve made some mistakes in my past," Robinson said. "We talked about it, talked to some other people in the organization and put things in place to handle some issues. I just want to concentrate on football and give the Green Bay Packers the best of Koren Robinson. … I’m here to help the team in any way I can. That’s all I want to do is play football and just focus on football.”
Prior to his arrest in August, Robinson had appeared to put his issues behind him, putting together a Pro Bowl season in Minnesota.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Robinson reunites with Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who was with Seattle when the Seahawks selected Robinson in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State.
“I was with Koren out in Seattle for several years," Thompson said. "For those of you who don’t know Koren, he is an all-football guy. He loves to practice. He loves to play the game. He’s looking very much forward to playing in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Like I’ve said before, we’re trying to make this team as good as we can make it, and we think he adds something to our team. We felt like this was a good move at this time.”
Robinson led the NFC and ranked fifth in the league in kickoff returns (26.0 avg., 47 returns, 1,221 yards) in 2005. In a 24-21 road triumph against the Giants (Nov. 13), he returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. He also had a 72-yard return against the Packers in Minnesota's 23-20 victory Oct. 23 in the Metrodome.
In 71 NFL games, including 57 starts, Robinson has 235 receptions for 3,514 yards (15.0 avg.) and 13 touchdowns. Robinson also has 21 career carries for 114 yards (5.4 avg.) and one TD.
The Packers are seeking a kickoff returner, as well as another playmaker at receiver. The Packers averaged just 18 yards per kickoff return against the Bears in their 26-0 loss Sunday. Samkon Gado, Noah Herron and Robert Ferguson each took turns returning kickoffs with little success. Robinson also gives the Packers' receiving corp another legitimate threat besides Donald Driver.
However, Robinson is still subject to a year-long suspension. Thompson declined to comment citing confidentiality rules of the NFL and NFL Players Association.
“This is a good kid," Thompson said. "I’m not making excuses, he has made some mistakes, but this is a good. He is a good character guy for all intents and purposes, but he has made some mistakes.”