A former first-round pick of the Saints is coming back home to New Orleans after three years spent on the road proving his NFL worth.
New Orleans is bringing cornerback Patrick Robinson back on a four-year deal, a league source told The Advocate on Wednesday, making Robinson the Saints' first outside signing of the NFL's wild week of free agency.
According to ESPN, the four-year deal includes a $5 million signing bonus, $10 million in guaranteed money and could be worth up to $20 million over the life of the deal.
For Robinson, who spent the first five years of his career in New Orleans and still owns a home here, the opportunity represents an exciting chance to come back to a place he considers a second home and prove how far he's come since his Saints days.
“I’ve got a love for New Orleans, the city," Robinson said at the Super Bowl earlier this year. "I would say that’s my second home. My wife and my kids love New Orleans. That city is full of culture. It’s just one of those cities that just has that Southern hospitality."
Robinson returns to New Orleans as a vastly different player than a lot of Saints fans will remember.
The first player the Saints drafted after their Super Bowl run in 2010, Robinson joined a veteran secondary and worked his way up to a starting role in 2012, but he tore his patellar tendon in 2013 and struggled at times throughout his five seasons in New Orleans.
“Honestly, I don’t think I was mentally strong enough," Robinson said in Minneapolis.
Robinson believes the struggles of his first time around in New Orleans helped him become the player he's been the last three years. After the Saints let him go at the end of his rookie contract, Robinson signed a one-year deal with the then-San Diego Chargers and made it count, playing well enough to earn a three-year deal with Indianapolis after the season.
A torn patellar tendon cut his time with the Colts to just one season, but Robinson found a home with the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
The key? Robinson is at his best covering the slot. In his final season in New Orleans, Robinson had success on the inside, and he was a difference-maker for the Eagles last season.
With Kenny Vaccaro moving on, the Saints needed a cover man who can play the slot. Robinson allowed a quarterback rating of just 64.96 in the slot last year; the Saints gave up a rating of 94.23, far above the defense's overall rating of 79.7, seventh-best in the NFL.
"Patrick Robinson taking over and playing that spot, making a lot of plays at the nickel position. ... that's what he's done all year," Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. "Quiet guy, but very effective in the role that he plays."
Robinson made 47 tackles, broke up 18 passes and picked off four more, and he made a play that will go down in Philadelphia lore in the NFC Championship Game. With the Vikings leading early, Robinson picked off Case Keenum and returned it for a score, igniting the crowd for a rout that would carry him all the way to a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles.
Now, he's coming back to New Orleans a far different player than when he left.
"I had some struggles," Robinson said at the Super Bowl. "But in my opinion, I think that helped me to get where I am now."