Story by John Zackrison
CLEVELAND, OH – A shooting star of a quarterback that crashed, burned, and nearly set the clubhouse on fire meets a franchise widely recognized for its ability to stabilize the quarterback position for going on a decade now. RGIII and the Browns look like a match made in headlines heaven; but the question remains if he can succeed on a team that has had little to sustained success in acquiring and maturing talent, and then even less success turning that talent into wins. The deal is for up to $15 million dollars over 2 years, counting all the potential incentives.
While Robert Griffin III may still have within him the ability to be a potential franchise quarterback, he has not been that player since his breakout rookie campaign of 2012. While other dual threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and even Colin Kaepernick (before he fell off the wagon last season) have taken their games to new and exciting heights, playing in each of the last four Super Bowls combined, RGIII has seen his stock plummet, his burnished image tarnished by accusations of entitlement, and culminating today, his welcome warn out.
Timing is Key
Of the quarterbacks currently on the open free agency market (Colin Kaepernick is technically under contract), RGIII is perhaps the most talented, and was undoubtedly the highest regarded coming out of college. A Heisman winner, Rookie of the Year, and dual threat athlete that changed the face and attitude of a pass-happy league upon entering the league in 2012, he burst on the scene, leading Washington to the playoffs and seemingly positioning himself to be the face of the franchise and even the league.
Instead, a combination of injuries (a torn ACL and spate of concussions) derailed his tenure in D.C., as reports painted him as entitled, meddlesome, and conceited behind the scenes, leading to his benching and a palpable loss of faith in him by the coaching staff, leading to a regime change.
Fans can be unforgiving at times, but with an offensive line that struggled to keep him healthy and a front office/coaching staff that did not always seem on the same page when it came to the former No.2 overall draft pick they paid a King’s Ransom for, plus the success enjoyed with Kirk Cousins at the helm last season, it was finally it was clear RGIII would never start again for the Washington Redskins.
#Browns RG3 on Washington: "What happened down there would break a lot of people.'' Grateful he got through it
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 24, 2016
It’s certainly understandable that Griffin might not have fond memories of his time in Washington; after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and helping the Redskins to the playoffs, injuries and inconsistency conspired to derail his career. Not helping: philosophical differences with Mike Shanahan, the man that drafted him, and later Gruden, who never seemed to buy into the RG3 hype, with some good reason: Kirk Cousins played as well as any quarterback in football over the latter half of last season in willing the Redskins to a division title and the post-season.
The Browns recently let go of another former highly touted quarterback gone bad in Johnny Maziel, but RGIII has proven himself a model citizen outside of football and said and did all the right things in a difficult situation last year. Had the Redskins not had a legitimate starting option outside of Griffin in Kirk Cousins, he more than likely remains the starter based on talent. The Browns could do with some talent, as their already depleted roster has been gutted by free agency this off-season.
In true Cleveland fashion, the Browns replaced the departed Johnny Football with another embattled first round quarterback from Texas that flamed out, though RGIII certainly offers more potential upside than Manziel ever showed in his lackluster Brown’s tenure. In acknowledgement the recent woes of the Cleveland Cavaliers it is fair to say the brightest spark of championship success the state of Ohio enjoyed was the recent NCAA championships of he Ohio St. Buckeyes and Caleb Porter’s dominance on division 1 soccer with a succession of College Cup wins before he headed for the professional ranks with Portland Timbers. The elephant in the room is that even if RGIII shows some of the spark that captured the attention of the NFL before, it will likely sputter and go out in the talent-deficient offense Cleveland may put on the field next season. After the city of Cleveland’s long, disheartening divorce from Johnny Manziel, most are right to question the GM brought in the right man. This is unlike the movie “Draft Day”, but anything close to a successful season is bound to lift spirits of Browns fans across the world come February 7, 2017. Expect the Browns to draft a quarterback in 2017 still, even though they could use the talent at just about every other position as well.