Here we go again in Cleveland.
On Thursday, Adam Schefter reported that the Cleveland Browns and former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III agreed to terms. The deal is a two-year deal, worth $15 million dollars with a $3.5 million signing bonus and a guarantee of $3.25 million for the 2016 season.
If Griffin is under center for the Browns this season, he will be the 25th different starting quarterback since the franchise returned to the NFL in 1999.
25 starting quarterbacks in a 17-year span. Let that sink in for a minute. Most teams haven’t had 25 quarterbacks on their roster in that same time frame, let alone 25 different quarterbacks starting games.
New Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson was highly touted this offseason as many teams were looking for his services to become their head coach, before he ultimately signed with the Browns. Jackson will put in yet another offensive system, something Cleveland hopes can finally get them out of the cellar of the AFC North. Many believe Hue can turn things around, but there are many who are skeptical because after all, it is the Cleveland Browns we are talking about.
Jackson was able to work with Andy Dalton and develop him for the divisional rival Cincinnati Bengals. While Dalton isn’t an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL, he is still a serviceable quarterback who has come a long way. It will be interesting to see how he fairs now that Jackson is on the other side of the state with new quarterbacks to try and develop.
This is a gamble for the Browns as Griffin is trying to revive his NFL career, but in the end, it won’t deter future plans, as long as the current regime is still there. This doesn’t change what Cleveland will do in the upcoming draft as they will select either Jared Goff out of Cal or Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. Whichever quarterback the Browns take, they will benefit from sitting out a year and learning from Jackson. The Browns have three quarterbacks already in Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw. Now, they could trade either of these quarterbacks or simply cut them, but Jackson wants guys who will compete for the starting quarterback positon.
Griffin now gets an opportunity to start over after his marriage with the Redskins didn’t end well. He was the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year, but has seen his progression hinder due to injuries and conflicts with coaches. Jackson said that when he and associate head coach Pep Hamilton met with Griffin over the course of two days in Cleveland last week that he [Griffin] took responsibility for the role he played in the divorce.
Griffin was a scrambling quarterback when he entered the league out of Baylor in 2012, but never could fully adjust to being an NFL pocket passer. Jay Gruden had to do a lot to protect Griffin in the pocket, but his timing, footwork and fundamentals just weren’t clicking. Jackson could be just the right guy to help guide Griffin to his full potential. Aside from his development never fully peaking, Griffin has suffered from injuries as he has had his right knee and ankle surgically repaired.
The move is ultimately a win-win scenario for the Browns, with little to no risk. If Griffin is able to regain his 2012 status and become a viable quarterback in the NFL under Jackson, it will improve the Browns from an overall standpoint. If he doesn’t pan out for Cleveland, then they can cut ties and hopefully have their future guy (Goff or Wentz) ready to go.
One reason Griffin might not succeed under Jackson is the fact he is walking into a similar situation he was in with the Redskins. When Griffin was drafted second overall in the 2012 NFL draft, many thought the Redskins were done drafting quarterbacks. However, Washington and then head coach Mike Shanahan took Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. After backing Griffin up for their first three years in the NFL, Cousins was named the starter over Griffin in 2015. With the Browns, they will have a highly coveted quarterback waiting in the wings after they draft one of them with the second overall pick. If Griffin can handle the pressure from the youngsters, he can succeed. If he gets too much into his own head, he could see his career continue to plummet. Griffin cannot afford to think he is entitled to anything, especially how the past three years have gone for him.
The Browns don’t need any drama from the quarterback position after going through the era of Johnny Manziel. Jackson will not allow what happened between Griffin and his former team happen to the Browns. This is a team that has had little to no success since returning 17-years ago and is desperately trying to take steps in the right direction. Griffin can only help, if he is able to be guided by Jackson and be the quarterback many thought he can be. If he does not succeed, the Browns will have gone through yet another trial and error approach.
Both Griffin and the Browns need fresh starts and together they can make things happen, whether that is good or bad remains to be seen. If Jackson’s track record is any indication, Griffin will at least be serviceable to the Browns, who could then potentially use him as trade bait down the line, once their newly drafted quarterback gets developed and acclimated to playing in the NFL.