So I was right! I was just about six months early.
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.
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.
I wish I had a rooting interest in this year’s playoffs, but all the same, this is going to be a year to remember. There are tons of great storylines and some incredible games to be played and that starts today with Wildcard Weekend. Let’s start predicting some matchups.
Kansas City vs. Houston Far from the sexiest matchup of the wildcard round. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is the least exciting. Still well worth watching though, which lets you know how great these playoffs will be. This projects to be more of a defensive struggle. Duane Brown’s injury is already a big blow to the Texans offense. Houston overall was lucky to make the playoffs. I think Alex Smith will show everyone his ability to handle the pressure of a playoff game. Charcandrick West and Stephen Ware should also help wear down a stout Texans defensive front. Mixing a mediocre Houston offense and the league’s third best scoring defense sounds like a recipe for disaster. I think the Chiefs will win this comfortably, 24-10.
Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati Nothing beats a divisional battle in the playoffs. If it couldn’t be Steelers-Ravens, (one of the best rivalries in NFL history) then I’m happy it could at least be Steelers-Bengals. These two split the season series, with the road team winning each matchup. I don’t think we are going to see that trend continue. I know Cincy is still without Andy Dalton but an even bigger blow comes on the other side. Pittsburgh will be without DeAngelo Williams, meaning that Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will be carrying the load for the Steelers. For as much as this team relies on Ben Roethlisberger, I think they are going to be too one-dimensional. Throwing the ball constantly doesn’t allow you to control the game offensively and I don’t think the Steelers will be able to close it out late. A.J. McCarron has had a few weeks to learn the offense. Hue Jackson is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league and I think he will have a plan to upend the rival Steelers. Final score, Bengals 31 – Steelers 27
Seattle vs. Minnesota Many are pointing at the midseason meeting between these two teams as the reason for why Seattle will win again. I don’t think it means anything how these two previously played. The Seahawks rode Thomas Rawls for a good portion of that victory. Rawls will not be playing on Sunday and neither will Marshawn Lynch. Russell Wilson is truly going to have no running game to support him in this one. Christine Michael will be the starting running back for the Hawks. Going up against a defense like Minnesota’s, that doesn’t bode well. That being said, this defense knows how to bottle up Adrian Peterson and will force Teddy Bridgewater to beat them with his arm. Bridgewater does not have a ton of weapons of his own in the passing game that will likely win one-on-matchups with this Seattle secondary. If this is a duel between Bridgewater and Wilson, I am taking Wilson every time. Seattle wins this blizzard bowl 21-10.
Green Bay vs. Washington This is not a game many would have predicted at the beginning of the year. I for one though Washington would not come anywhere near the playoffs. I doubt many would have guessed that Green Bay would be on the road either. As much as I like Aaron Rodgers, especially in the playoffs, I don’t think he will be leaving the nation’s capital with a win. The Packers have failed to find any consistency on offense, whether it be running or passing. On the flip side, Kirk Cousins has been on fire for Washington. He’s been yelling, “You like that!” a lot, which is good news for this DC team. I think Washington’s passing attack will prove too much for an underwhelming Packers’ secondary to handle. Momentum has a lot to do with this one. Washington has won four straight while Green Bay has dropped its last two. It will be close but I think Washington will win its first playoff game in 10 years, 27-24.
With the second pick in the 2012 draft, Washington selects…
I bet that’s a moment fans in the Nation’s capital would love a do-over on. 2012 turned out to be one of the most talent-filled drafts the NFL has seen in some time. Between Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Luke Keuchley, Bobby Wagner, Chandler Jones and the list goes on.
Washington gave up eight picks to move up to second overall in that draft. The belief was that there were two franchise-altering quarterbacks set to join the league in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Washington put itself in the position where whichever quarterback Indianapolis didn’t select would fall to them at two.
Indy took Luck and the rest is history. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the AFC over the last three seasons while Washington has gotten progressively worse.
After one fantastic year in DC that ended with a shocking knee injury, RG3 has had a rough time in the NFL. Griffin threw 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions his rookie year. In the last two years, he has only managed to throw 20 more scores while 18 of his passes were picked off. Griffin has been notorious for fumbling throughout his career as well. Not to mention the numerous reports that Griffin has a bit of an attitude problem and blames his teammates. It is clear that he has strayed from the path of franchise QB.
However, there is some upside to the former Baylor quarterback. His career completion percentage sits at a healthy 63.9 for his career, including last year when he completed 68.7 in limited appearances. He also has a respectable 7.62 yards per attempt passing during his career.
Teams could do a lot worse than having Griffin as their starting quarterback. He is definitely injury prone but still has the ability to be successful. Part of his being prone to injury might be due to the number of times Griffin has been hit when he drops back. Washington’s line has allowed more sacks each year since Griffin entered the league, ending last season with a whopping 53 sacks allowed, representing the second worst mark in the NFL. Griffin sustained a concussion during this preseason after he was sacked on three of his eight drop backs against Detroit as well. That stuff doesn’t happen to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.
The management in Washington has also ruined any chance RG3 has of succeeded there. The coaching staff has made it clear that they want him out, as has the management, but rumor has it that Dan Snyder is insistent on keeping Griffin on the team. Washington is in a state of complete disarray at the moment and the best thing for both sides would be to trade or release Griffin. Washington simply needs to wash their hands of the terrible trade they made in 2012 and move on.
It seems unlikely that a trade would happen but it is more than possible that Griffin could hit the open market. Several teams have mentioned that they would have “medium” interest in RG3 if he was a free agent. No one seems overly eager to bring him in.
One team that makes more sense than probably anyone else to sign him has to be Cleveland. The Browns have had the worst luck in terms of quarterbacking play over the last three decades. They have their project Johnny Manziel in progress right now but he is nowhere near ready to roll quite yet. They also have Josh McCown under contract and he will likely be the team’s starter come week 1.
Believe it or not, Griffin would probably be a major upgrade for Cleveland. Bringing him in from Washington on a contract that doesn’t have a ton of guaranteed money over the next two years or so could make a lot of sense. Griffin desperately needs a fresh start and the Browns are searching for the answer at quarterback. Letting Griffin take the reins in Cleveland might just be the spark they need.
The Browns probably still aren’t going to be in the playoff picture but it could be a step in the right direction. It also gives Cleveland another option at quarterback to ensure that they will not need to prematurely throw Manziel on the field.
While moving to Cleveland would be a downgrade for Griffin in terms of his offensive weapons around him, he would have a much better offensive line. Cleveland allowed 31 sacks last season which was in the top half of the league. With five-time All-Pro Joe Thomas protecting his blindside and two-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack organizing the line at center, Griffin will have some time to survey the field from the pocket.
When given time, Griffin has proven that he can be an above average quarterback. He still has to learn how to play without relying on his legs quite so much but there is some hope for him. He is only 25-years old and has plenty left in the tank. He might be fragile but if the Browns can limit the number of times he is hit, then that shouldn’t be a problem.
A strong defense and an run-first offensive approach could benefit Griffin as well. Washington’s poor defense often meant that he was playing from behind but if the Browns can control the clock and the defense improves against the run then Griffin will be in a much better system.
Griffin moving to Cleveland makes a lot of sense. Washington already has a contingency plan in the form of Kirk Cousins. For the Browns, it means bringing in a quarterback with some potential without risking much. Griffin could be the ultimate low-risk high-reward type of player that Cleveland should take a chance on.
As a football fan, I hope Washington releases Griffin and he gets a chance to start elsewhere. I think RG3 could succeed in the right environment and I think it would be a lot of fun to see him in a Browns uniform. If Griffin has something of a turn around and survives the season, Cleveland suddenly would have someone to attract free agents for the first time in years.
Who knows, maybe three years from now we will be talking about how good the Browns are with their stud QB Robert Griffin III. Probably not, but all the same, it really couldn’t hurt the Browns to try. He can’t be much worse than McCown right?