It was only a matter of time, the Washington Redskins announced the release of quarterback Robert Griffin III earlier today. Four years ago, Washington paid a hefty price to move up in the draft to take Griffin with the No. 2 overall pick. Washington swapped first round picks that year with the then St. Louis Rams, as well as giving up two additional first round picks and a second round pick.
In his rookie campaign, Griffin showed why he was selected to be the franchise quarterback, leading the Redskins to the playoffs while winning the NFL Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl. He threw for 3,200 yards to go with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, while also rushing for 815 yards. Fans loved him for many reasons, especially the fact that he was a dual-threat quarterback who could beat teams with his arm or his legs.
In 2012, Griffin helped lead the Redskins to the NFC East title, but the entire 2012 campaign didn’t quite end the way it started. In fact, late in the 2012 season, the downward spiral of this relationship had begun. On December 9, 2012, Griffin partially tore his PCL, costing him just one game before making his return for the final two games of the regular season.
After that final regular season game, Griffin made it known he wasn’t particularly a fan of the zone read option that the Skins had used all year long. However, head coach Mike Shanahan and his son (offensive coordinator) Kyle insisted on continuing the option to give them the best chance at protecting Griffin.
The first round of the playoffs, much like the start of the season, couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, before ending in turmoil.
Griffin led Washington to an early 14-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks and then he tweaked his knee. Shanahan, after consulting with team doctor Dr. James Andrews and Griffin, decided to run the risk of furthering the injury and left Griffin in the game. Then later in the game, Griffin would go down holding his knee and the worst case scenario occurred; he tore his ACL.
This did not stop Griffin from continuing to be the face of the franchise. He vowed to be back by the start of the 2013 season and ultimately did. Unfortunately for Griffin and Washington, things didn’t go as planned and Robert struggled. He was the starter for the first 13 games, despite not being cleared for the preseason, throwing 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, he was sacked 24 times.
Washington then made a personnel change, by firing Shanahan and replacing him with first time head coach Jay Gruden, who was supposed to “fix” RGIII.
Once again, plans did not go accordingly for the Redskins and Griffin. He did not have a very good training camp and struggled mightily in 2014. In week two of that season, Griffin dislocated his ankle, resulting in him missing six games. He was benched for three games before having to start the final two games of the season after Colt McCoy got injured. Griffin finished 2014 throwing four touchdowns and six interceptions.
That led to 2015, the icing on the cake of Griffin-Redskins divorce. The injury bug yet again found a way to bite Griffin, this time in form of a concussion in the second game of the preseason. After that, it was downhill with no brakes. Griffin was demoted to the No. 3 quarterback on the roster and Kirk Cousins took over the the team. Griffin was only active for one game this past season, but did not play.
With the release ahead of the March 9, 4 p.m. deadline, Washington saves $16.15 million in cap space. This move was accompanied by the release of defensive end Jason Hatcher, potentially saving the team another $6.8 million. The only reason it took this long for the Skins to release him was the fact they were looking for trade partners, but were unsuccessful.
To Griffin’s credit, he did not become a distraction for the Redskins in 2015. He wasn’t happy there, but there was really nothing he could do about it. Gruden wanted the starter to be Cousins and he got that. Griffin stayed quiet in the media most of the season and when he did speak, he was positive and encouraging of his teammates.
This now gives Griffin an opportunity for a restart. Many teams around the NFL are in need of a quarterback, so there will be many suitors for the 2012 Heisman Trophy Award winner. Some possible landing destinations according to various reports for RGIII include the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos.
This marriage started off wonderfully before souring down the stretch. Both parties can now move on and put this mess of a situation to rest. Washington has Cousins moving forward (at least for the 2016 season) and Griffin will try and find a new home.
Griffin thanks the Redskins organization and fans for the last four years via his Instagram account.
It was a blessing guys. After 4 years, my days as a part of this team have come to an end. I just want to take the time to say thank you #SkinsNation. Thank you for welcoming my family with open arms in 2012. You guys made it truly an honor to play for you and I couldn’t imagine starting my career anywhere else. Thank you to Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, all the Skins coaches, training staff, equipment managers and everyone in the organization for giving me an opportunity to play this beautiful game at the highest level here in Washington. A special thanks to front desk extraordinaire B.J. Blanchard, who always has a smile on her face and is the plug for chocolate chips cookies. Thank you to my teammates for all the memories & relationships over the past 4 years. You guys have helped thru all the ups and downs over the years and have become a part of my family for life. I wish you all the best and you always have a brother to lean on. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Although my time here is over, I’m excited about what the future brings!!! I look forward to finding the team where God has me to be and growing with that team on the way to World Championships. God Bless #ThankYou