Commanders Urged to ‘Upgrade’ Brian Robinson Jr. With NFC East Rival

Brian Robinson Jr.

Getty The Washington Commanders can "upgrade" RB Brian Robinson Jr. with a rival from the NFC East.

Establishing a consistent ground game is one way Dan Quinn and Kliff Kingsbury can change the Washington Commanders on offense. It’ll be easier if head coach Quinn uses “a league-leading amount of cap space” to “drastically upgrade” the backfield by replacing starter Brian Robinson Jr. with Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.

That’s the idea put forward by Justin Melo of the Draft Network. Robinson, who averaged four yards per carry last season, “is a quality player, but he shouldn’t prevent the Commanders from trying to drastically upgrade the position.”

Melo explained how two-time Pro Bowler like Barkley would supplement the Commanders’ draft plans: “Washington is also expected to draft a rookie quarterback with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. Signing Barkley would help an inexperienced quarterback make a smoother transition.”

Barkley’s also a fit for the way new general manager Adam Peters can rebuild the roster: “Peters believes in the value of dual-threat running backs after being a part of a San Francisco 49ers regime that paid a premium to acquire Christian McCaffrey.”

Saquon Barkley Can Play Christian McCaffrey Role for Commanders

Barkley represents an upgrade over Robinson in every area, but particularly as a receiver. While Robinson’s made just 45 receptions in two seasons, Barkley has snagged 98 catches over the same time frame.

Significantly, Barkley has been a more expansive threat in the passing game. He averaged 1.3 yards before catch per reception, compared to Robinson’s -1.2, per Pro Football Reference.

Barkley can make catch passes out of the backfield, but he can also line up in the slot or split out as a wide receiver. The Commanders know all about Barkley’s skills as a receiver after he burned them for three touchdowns last season.

His first was this 32-yard catch and run to help the Giants earn a 14-7 win in Week 7.

Barkley also hauled in a pair of scoring grabs when the Giants won 31-19 at FedEx Field four weeks later. The second was this clutch catch at the goal-line.

Plays like this show how much easier Barkley would make things for a rookie passer. It’s what Peters saw Christian McCaffrey do for Brock Purdy in San Francisco.

Like McCaffrey, Barkley is also a true also a workhorse on the ground. He gained 962 yards and averaged 17.6 rushing attempts per game, despite missing three contests with an ankle sprain.

Barkley’s the Giants’ most-valuable player, but Washington’s division rivals still haven’t handed him a long-term contract. The Commanders shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage and sign a complete back to recreate a dynamic Quinn once had with the Atlanta Falcons.

Brian Robinson Jr. and Saquon Barkley Can Recreate Dan Quinn’s Falcons Formula

Peters worked with head coach Kyle Shanahan for the 49ers. Shanahan was offensive coordinator for Quinn when the Falcons reached the 2017 Super Bowl.

They got there largely on the strength of a dynamic running game fronted by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman was the featured back who rushed for 1,079 yards and still caught 54 passes. Coleman offered a more versatile threat on third downs, reeling in 31 catches and still adding 118 carries to the ground attack.

There’s no reason why the Commanders couldn’t form a similar one-two punch with Barkley and Robinson. It wouldn’t need to work exactly the same way, but the double act would surely cause defenses plenty of problems.

Robinson’s never going to be a premium receiving threat, but he’s a capable grinder who’s still needed since Antonio Gibson is a free agent. If Gibson moves on, replacing him with Barkley would more than soften the blow.

Barkley is open to testing the veteran market and giving the Giants the chance to match any offers. The Commanders can make that proposition too pricey for Big Blue, thanks to a projected $83,543,548 worth of space under the salary cap.

More than enough to pay Barkley what he deserves.

Read More