Four years ago the Browns made a serious run at trading up to be able to draft Robert Griffin III. Today, they signed him as a free agent.
The Rams, who held the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, preferred the Redskins’ offer to the one that Cleveland made. After Griffin’s rookie year it looked like the Redskins had won big time.
But things changed and the Redskins moved on from Griffin. After a little more than two weeks of looking for a landing spot, he ends up in Cleveland.
Hue Jackson, the Browns’ new head coach, should work well with Griffin. He is a an interesting blend of old-school no-nonsense and new-age positive energy who don’t treat Griffin with kid gloves. If anyone can get Griffin into the proper mental frame of mind to succeed, it’s Jackson.
But beyond that, there aren’t a lot of encouraging signs that this will work. For one thing, it’s being reported that the Browns are still intent on drafting a quarterback with their top pick, the second overall. That likely means that Carson Wentz of South Dakota State will be on board when May rolls around. Griffin may be the Week 1 starter in Cleveland (Josh McCown has been put on the trading block) but how long will he be under center beyond that?
And then there is the matter of the Browns’ offense. Jackson’s system is similar to Jay Gruden’s, and Griffin struggled with it in D. C. Perhaps Jackson could cater the offense to Griffin’s strengths but how practical is it to do that for a placeholder quarterback?
One more thing—the Browns stink. They earned that second overall pick last year with their 3-13 record. Four of their best players departed as free agents, including their two best offensive linemen. Jackson is new, the GM and other front office types are as well. They are in a total rebuild mode in a very tough AFC North.
There are those who are saying that Griffin really has nothing to lose here. If he succeeds in the situation his career will have been revived. If he doesn’t, it will be blamed on the Browns organization. And there is something to that.
But Griffin has plenty to lose in terms of a ticking clock. He signed a two-year deal with the Browns. If he emerges into free agency in 2018 without having shown that he is a viable pocket passer, a guy who can at least come in and run an NFL offense without needing his own special playbook, he could have trouble landing a job. Although someone might give him a shot, many around the league will wonder if, at age 28, Griffin will be worth taking on as a project.
In short, fans and the media may point towards the Browns longstanding dysfunction if Griffin doesn't succeed. But the GMs and coaches around the league will look at the tape and assess blame accordingly.
It seems that there was not a better option out there for Griffin. Things may not be much better in a couple of years.
Many Redskins fans are wishing the best for Griffin. After the spectacular rookie year he gave them, they should. But they also should be prepared for the worst.