Robert Griffin III has found a new home in the National Football League. The 26-year-old quarterback, who was once viewed as the franchise savior for the Washington Redskins, signed a two-year, $15 million contract that included $6.75 million in guaranteed money, and will continue his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns.
Griffin, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, reportedly wowed new Browns head coach Hue Jackson and his top offensive assistant, Pep Hamilton, during a two-day visit earlier this month, and will now have the opportunity to compete for the right to be the team’s 21st starting quarterback since the 1999 season.
Griffin took the league by storm as a rookie in 2012, beating out Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for the NFL Rookie of the Year award, but he was never able to play up to that level as a member of the Redskins. He spent several weeks on Washington’s Injured Reserve list, and eventually lost his job to fellow 2012 draft pick, Kirk Cousins. Now, he has the chance to revive his once-promising career under the tutelage of one of the game’s best offensive coaches. And this fact hasn’t slipped past Griffin. Here’s what he had to say following the announcement of his signing.
I’m excited about the opportunity to join the Dawg Pound and help build something here in Cleveland. Coach Hue and Pep, I had a great meeting with them. I really believe in what they preach and how they can help not only me as a player but this team win games, and that’s what we’re all about.
In a press release of his own, Jackson echoed Griffin’s sentiments about the former Baylor standout joining the Browns.
We are excited about Robert joining the Cleveland Browns. He brings starting experience to our team and organization. He’s a young, athletic, talented passer and he’s really just starting out in this league. Just like every player on our team, Robert will have to earn every opportunity he gets. He will compete with the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster and he helps improve our QB room, which was one of my goals upon taking the job. It’s a special room and we want to put special people and players in that room. We are looking forward to working with Robert, as well as the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster. We have a lot of work to do to prepare to be the best QB room in the NFL and we look forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
While the addition of a player of Griffin’s stature is both notable and newsworthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Browns have now solved their issues at the quarterback position.
First things first, Griffin is still a work in progress. And while Jackson may have a proven track record of being a quarterback guru, there is no guaranteeing that he will be able to save Griffin’s free-falling career. Furthermore, there is no promising that RGIII will even be the Browns’ Week 1 starter — something that was made clear to their new quarterback during his visit last week.
In fact, Jackson and Hamilton both informed Griffin that there is a good chance that he would have to compete with a high draft pick, as most people expect the Browns to use the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on a quarterback. If that proves to be true, the Browns will likely use Griffin as a stop-gap at the position until they are ready to hand over the reigns of their offense to whichever quarterback they select in the draft this April.
However, with that being said, we believe that signing Griffin could potentially alter Cleveland’s draft plans. If Jackson is confident that Griffin, or one of the team’s other quarterbacks for that matter, can effectively run his system, then we can easily envision the team either trading back in the first round to stockpile picks, or using their pick on a more surefire prospect such as Jalen Ramsey, Joey Bosa, or DeForest Buckner.
Let’s be honest here, neither of the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State and Jared Goff out of Cal, are can’t-miss prospects, and the Browns simply cannot afford to strike out on another failed first-round signal caller. Bringing in Griffin was a low-risk (relatively), high-reward move for the Browns.
If he is able to revitalize his career and play like he did as a rookie in 2012, this signing will go down as a steal. If he continues to struggle, he can serve as an experienced backup, or the team can flat-out cut him without suffering a significant financial impact. And really, what do the Browns have to lose in this situation? It’s not like they will compete for a Super Bowl anytime soon.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.