A few years ago, a moment like this seemed impossible.
Then, about six months ago, it became inevitable.
The Redskins have released quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Redskins have informed Griffin that they are going to move on from him. The move means that the Redskins will not pay him the $16.15 million option salary that would have become guaranteed if had remained on the roster as of this Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The money was a big factor but it was obvious that the Redskins were going to go with Kirk Cousins as their quarterback. That left no job for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a pick that the Redskins parted with three of their own first-rounders and a second to acquire.
The move paid off initially as Griffin dazzled the league with both his arm and his legs, earning rookie of the year honors and leading the Redskins to their first division title since 1999. Some moments from that season, such as his electrifying 76-yard touchdown run against the Vikings and four touchdown passes in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, will live forever in Redskins lore.
Unfortunately so will the injuries that Griffin suffered. The first serious problem came that year in December when Griffin scrambled, cut back to the middle of the field, and after a collision with massive defensive lineman Haloti Ngata he stayed on the ground with a sprained ligament in his knee. That sidelined him for a game.
Griffin still didn’t seem to be 100 percent when the Redskins hosted the Seahawks in the NFC playoffs. Early in the game it looked like he tweaked it but Mike Shanahan kept him in the game. That turned out to be a disastrous decision as Griffin’s knee bent awkwardly as he tried to pick up a loose ball in the fourth quarter. His ACL was torn, other ligaments were damaged and the knee required reconstructive surgery a few days later.
Everyone reading this is familiar with the saga, the “All in for Week 1” mantra, the one-hour ESPN special on his recovery, the passive-aggressive public exchanges with Shanahan, the constant media reports of discord both in the locker room and between Griffin and Shanahan, the coach getting fired, Jay Gruden coming in, the dislocated ankle, Gruden’s public criticism of the quarterback, the announcement at the combine that Griffin was the starter, the post-Lions game concussion saga and, finally, Gruden proclaiming that “it’s Kirk’s team.”
That’s leaving out a lot of details in between but suffice it to say that just about every that could go wrong did go wrong from the moment Ngata whipped Griffin’s knee in the wrong direction until the end. When something goes as spectacularly bad as the Griffin saga did virtually everyone involved has to have a hand in it.
Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder should not have pushed for a deal that gave up so much for one player whose fit in an NFL offense was questionable. As the man with final say in football decisions, Mike Shanahan should not have given it his OK. Kyle Shanahan should not have designed an offense that would stunt Griffin’s development and ended up creating expectations that could not be meant. Pivot back to Allen and Snyder, who hired a coach with an offense that didn’t fit what Griffin does well. Griffin should never have taken on such a sense of entitlement after his rookie year and never really learning how to protect himself either in or out of the pocket. Gruden should not have come out and sharply criticized Griffin publically.
Again, some details being left out but if you want to point fingers at who is to blame you’d better have a lot of fingers ready.