There are a lot of questions and confusion regarding the contractual status of Robert Griffin III for 2015 and beyond. Here is a look at the current situation and some of the options that the Redskins and Griffin will have going forward.
This coming season will be the last of the four-year, $21.1 million contract that was the slotted deal when he came in as the second overall pick in the 2012 draft. Griffin’s 2015 salary will be $3.27 million, fully guaranteed. His salary cap number is $6.72 million, which includes a charge of $3.45 million for the prorated portion of his signing bonus.
As noted, the salary is guaranteed. If the Redskins decided to release Griffin, they would have to pay him that $3.27 million and it would count against the cap. And the money can’t be offset so even if Griffin signed with another team the Redskins would still owe him the entire $3.27 million.
A trade would relieve them of the guaranteed salary. The prorated bonus is $3.45 million will remain on the books as a 2015 cap charge regardless.
Right now it looks like the Griffin will be on the 2015 roster. That means that the Redskins have a decision to make regarding the 2016 option they hold on Griffin’s contract. The fifth-year option must be declared by early May and for a top 10 pick like Griffin it pays a one-year salary equal to the transition tag amount for the player’s position. While that salary can’t be determined right now, it will be in the range of $16 million.
When the option is declared it becomes guaranteed for injury immediately. That obviously is a key consideration with a player like Griffin, who has suffered from two major injuries since entering the league. If the player is healthy, the team can withdraw the option offer up to the start of the league year. If not withdrawn the option becomes guaranteed at that time.
There really isn’t much of a point in getting into the weeds on the technicalities of the option year because it seems highly unlikely that the Redskins will use it on Griffin. The way he has played the last two seasons there is simply no way that he can be considered to be worth $16 million for a season, at least based on what the organization will know in May. Throw in the injury risk and there really isn’t much debate about it.
The Redskins do have some insurance if Griffin turns it around next year and reverts to being the superstar player we saw in 2012. They could give him the franchise or transition tag if they can’t agree on a contract. The franchise salary would cost some $4 million more than the option but they wouldn’t have to declare it until after the 2015 season.
One more thing—the decision to exercise the option has no effect on the 2015 season. Even though the intention to invoke it has to be announced prior to the season, the final year of the contract is not affected. The decision on the option does not have an effect on the ability to use the franchise or transition tags either.