Why Griffin Makes Sense in Cleveland

So I was right! I was just about six months early.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has 40 career touchdown passes from his time in Washington.

Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns this afternoon, joining the laundry list of quarterback to play for Cleveland over the last 15 years. While the internet might have had some fun with this, signing Griffin makes a lot of sense for the Browns.

It’s not like the Browns have many better options on their roster right now. Josh McCown is 36 going on 70 and that Manziel guy is now a free agent with some legal trouble. The only other guy on the roster is Austin Davis, whose 13 career NFL starts have left a lot to be desired.

So instead, the Browns are taking a gamble on the former Heisman trophy winner. And there is really no harm in that. Cleveland will likely draft a quarterback with the second overall pick and all signs point to it being Carson Wentz.

Wentz has looked solid during the pre-draft process and he is seemingly pro ready. However, the Browns know better than anyone else on planet Earth that forcing quarterbacks to play in the NFL before they are ready can be catastrophic.

Griffin’s contract is reportedly for two years and maxes out at $15 million. Paying about $7.5 million per year for a short term starting quarterback isn’t a bad deal and because the deal is short, the Browns are not really committed to Griffin. He essentially has a two-year window to show if he can still play in the league. If the answer is no, then start Wentz in 2017.

RG3
Griffin is 15-24 over the first three seasons of his career. 

The reality is that the Browns need someone to play quarterback and they are taking a low-risk high-reward gamble on RGIII. And this is not Denver where they are likely just a quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Cleveland would miss the playoffs this year with Russell Wilson under center. There just isn’t enough talent. Getting Griffin gives the Browns a stopgap while they continue to try to improve in other areas of the roster and groom a future starter.

Imagine for just a second if Griffin somehow reverts to his 2012, rookie of the year form during the next two seasons with the Browns. First of all, Griffin would then have suitors around the league after his contract is over and Cleveland would have the happy situation of having two starting quarterbacks.

In the best case scenario, Griffin proves to be a stud and the Browns ship him off to Denver or Philadelphia after his first season for some draft picks. Worst case scenario is that Griffin flounders again, or even more likely gets hurt, and Cleveland turns the keys over to Wentz at the start of his second year.

All in all, I think this is a great deal for both sides. Cleveland gets a two-year rental at quarterback and Griffin gets one last shot to prove he can still play in this league.

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What do you do if you are the Nets?

Let’s talk about the NBA without discussing Steph Curry or LeBron James. I know novel concept, right?

Mikhail Prokhorov
Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov mortgaged the team’s future in 2013 in attempt to build a super team.

No instead we are going to talk about a certain New York team that has a bit of a foggy future. We are going to tackle the task of rebuilding the Nets.

The Nets are not an enviable team right now. They have a banged up starting five, just bought out their best players’ contract and have no draft picks until the next we have to deal with presidential campaigns again. In short, they don’t have a lot to work with.

You have to start somewhere though and the best way would be with drafting smart. Only issue is, Brooklyn can’t even do that. Remember that trade they swung a couple years back to get Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett from Boston? Well the Nets are paying for that now. As I mentioned before, the Nets don’t have control of their own draft pick until 2019. They will have one next year, but it will likely be the Celtics’ pick after Boston opts to swap.

So the next plan would be to build a roster that can be blown up at any time. That way if the young talent starts to come through, Brooklyn can start building in earnest whenever they want. For right now though, the Nets just need to weather the storm and prepare for the future.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.JPG
Hollis-Jefferson was a star at Arizona and was selected in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft.

Brooklyn made a couple of savvy moves during the draft last year to bring in raw, high-ceiling rookies in Markel Brown, Chris McCullough, Sergey Karasav and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. None of them were ready to contribute much at the NBA level this year, but all have the potential to be decent pieces down the road. For right now, that is the future core of the Nets’ roster. All of these guys have potential and if Brooklyn is patient enough they could develop into a good group to work with.

They took out a couple of flyers on Thomas Robinson and Shane McClellan as well. Unfortunately, the Nets only have two players that should be starting on NBA teams right now. Brook Lopez is doing everything he can to keep this team afloat and Thaddeus Young has put together a solid season. Injuries haven’t helped, as Jarrett Jack was lost for the season relatively early on.

With Joe Johnson officially coming off the books during the summer, Brooklyn will have a ton of money to spend. The challenge will be putting together a pitch for prospective players to join the team. They have don’t have much to sell free agents on and likely won’t be a playoff team for the foreseeable future.

Ideally, the Nets would go out and splash some cash to bring in Kevin Durant, Mike Conley or Bradley Beal. But since that isn’t likely to happen, here is who they could nab instead.

Brandon_Jennings
Jennings was traded to the Magic at the trade deadline this year.

During the 2016 offseason, the Nets need to find themselves a point guard. Donald Sloan is not cutting it and he will be a free agent after the year is done anyway. Brandon Jennings and Aaron Brooks are set to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Either one of them would be a significant upgrade. Even with Jack returning, he will be coming off a major knee injury and there is no telling how he will bounce back.

Then Brooklyn needs to address the issue of not having a solid-scoring wing who can act also as a perimeter defender. The Nets score the second fewest points per game in the league right now, only ahead of the Sixers. They also rank 28th in opponents’ field goal percentage. Bojan Bogdanovic is not the long term answer. This one is a bit trickier as there aren’t too many great options that the Nets could realistically sign. Luol Deng might jump at some money if the Nets are willing to throw it his way.

This way, the Nets can at least be semi-competitive in 2016-2017. A starting lineup of Jennings, Wayne Ellington, Deng, Young and Brooks would be a lot better than what they have now. And keep in mind, the Nets have nothing to tank for without control of their own draft pick.

Overall, Brooklyn can only hope to keep fans interested and build through free agency for the time being. They are all but tapped out in terms of resources to trade for draft picks. They do not have the means to build through the draft. They just have to hang on to the young talent they have and continue to bring in unproven players with the potential to develop. One day they will have a chance to rebuild, but until then, they have to suffer through a few seasons of below-average ball.