Three years ago, the NFL unfairly swiped $36 million in cap space from Washington for treating the uncapped year of 2010 like (who knew?) an uncapped year. Also in 2012, the team gave up three first-round picks and a second-round pick to get quarterback Robert Griffin III.
And his continuing presence on the roster puts the team at risk of losing $16.1 million in cap space and cash in 2016.
Now that Griffin finally has been cleared from a concussion that it initially wasn’t clear he had even suffered, the team needs to unload him before another concussion or some other injury potentially forces them to pay him the money next year. For now, his fifth-year option salary is guaranteed for injury only. Surely, the team will be cutting him before that amount becomes fully guaranteed in March.
So why not do it now?
They’re likely squatting on his rights because they’ll owe him $3.249 million for 2015 whether he’s on the team or not, and that amount won’t be reduced by money he makes elsewhere. But if the broader goal is to keep him from being injured in a way that would chew up more than 10 percent of the team’s cap space in 2016, why not eliminate the temptation to play Griffin by removing him from the roster?
Another more convoluted reason to keep Griffin potentially arises from the fear that he’ll go somewhere else and thrive. By next year, that won’t matter, since there’s no way he’ll be back at $16.1 million. So why not part ways now, when he’d have a much harder time learning a new offense on the fly and contributing to a new team, even if it were a team like the Eagles?
Sure, the team would have only Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy at quarterback if Griffin goes. So bring in Terrelle Pryor or Jeff Tuel or Rex Grossman or pretty much anyone who’s available and who wouldn’t saddle the team with a $16 million liability in 2016 if he gets seriously injured in 2015.
For anyone confused by why the franchise landed at No. 32 in our initial power rankings of the season, the fact that Griffin remains employed by it is pretty much all the evidence you need.