It’s time to get crazy. The official opening of NFL free agency starts Monday and the madness will begin. The back and forth of agents, teams, and players will be nothing short of bizarre. The money spent will be mind-boggling. But there’s one player involved in the madness with tons of cash already. Robert Griffin III will be up for grabs. What happened to the promising kid from Baylor?
On July 18, 2012, the Redskins officially signed Griffin to a four-year, $21.1 million contract with a $13.8 million signing bonus. Coming out of Baylor, he was hailed as the next exciting thing to happen in pro football. The NFL embraced him with open arms and a wider checkbook. Then a funny thing happened on the road to superstardom. He fizzled out.
According to stats at NFL Network, in 2012 and 2014, Griffin was a proficient passer. His lowest passing percentage was in 2013. He suffered a completely torn LCL and ACL, requiring total reconstruction. That season, he finished the year with a 60.1 ratio and 12 INTs. Other than that, Griffin has tossed the ball at a 65 percent clip. In five years, he’s established a 63.9 percent completion ratio and 90.6 passer rating. Why are the Washington Redskins so eager and willing to dump him?
The Redskins organization fumbled the ball and kicked it around, concerning the Griffin incident. Who to blame for the handling of Griffin’s injury is a hot topic that will never be settled. Football players get hurt. It’s part of the violent landscape. But the callous way the Redskins addressed the situation was inexcusable.
In Week 14 of the 2012 season, Griffin suffered what appeared to be a hyperextended knee injury, against the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin left the field, but was back after only one play. He managed to stay in and hobble through four plays. Eventually, Griffin left the game in favor of Kirk Cousins. The injury is diagnosed as a mild LCL sprain.
The highest level of mishandling the injury came when Griffin was cleared to play in the Redskins Wild Card game. Against the Seahawks, Griffin was clearly hobbling and his mobility was horrendous. While wearing a brace to protect his knee, Robert tried to recover a botched snap. His knee buckled like a wet noodle and he was done.
Later, the injury is revealed to actually be a completely torn LCL and ACL, requiring extensive surgery.
The war of words and trust was on. Some questioned why he was allowed to play; others criticized Griffin for being soft. The bottom line is simple. Robert Griffin III should not have been on the field.
The system change
Owner Dan Snyder felt that the best way to ensure Griffin’s health and protect his franchise’s future was to change his playing style. The apparent solution was in getting him to play less zone-read style running plays and spending more time in the pocket as a passer. The rift that caused between Mike Shanahan and Snyder was epic.
Shanahan’s system, implemented by his son Kyle, was more suited to the skill set that Griffin was able to deliver. That never happened. Per ESPN, Shanahan was fired after the 2013 season, with a year left on his contract.
Enter Jay Gruden
After being given a year to perfect the Gruden offense, Griffin is benched. Kirk Cousins gets the nod as starter. After saying that he liked Griffin as a quarterback and his future with the Redskins was secure, he effectively tossed him under the bus.
“He’s the best quarterback on our roster at this time. He’s earned the right to be our starter for 2015.”
The Redskins hired a coach who preferred a drop-back passer. Griffin is more than capable from the pocket, but he still loves to tuck and run rather than process the reads and make the pass. It didn’t help that his offensive line was a total mess.
After serving time as a bench warming third string QB and a practice squad defensive back, Griffin should be happy to start anywhere. He’s 26-years-old. That gives him more than enough time to learn a system for a team that wants him.
[Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images]