Could RG3 Be Rebuilt with the Browns?
The Washington Redskins have benched Robert Griffin III. RG3, the dynamic player who set the NFL on fire his rookie year, is not at a crossroads of his career. The Redskins traded a treasure trove of draft considerations to acquire him but now they are unlikely to move forward with him as their QB.
The Cleveland Browns had interest in RG3 and tried to trade for him only to be out bid by Washington. Mike Holmgren made comments that he believed that the St. Louis Rams traded with Washington because of personal relationships. Instead of RG3 the Browns drafted Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden that year. Richardson became Johnny Manziel.
Oh how things have changed. Yet could RG3 and the Browns come together, now just 4 years later, and help answer each other’s problems? Is it possible that Griffin could be rebuilt in Cleveland following this season?
Factory of Sadness
There are a few reasons the answer to this question could be yes. First Griffin’s career started, and flourished, under Kyle Shanahan who is currently the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. While Kyle’s dad, Mike Shanahan, had troubles with RG3, the younger Shanahan could still have an affinity for him. The Browns run heavy offense would limit how often Griffin would have to try to make plays and the solid to great offensive line would protect him better than what he has had in Washington.
The Browns also have a very uncertain QB situation at this point. Brian Hoyer has led the team to a 7 – 4 record this season but the Falcons game was a great example of why wins are not a stat for QBs. That was a team win, one in which Hoyer both hurt and helped the team. Hoyer is a free agent at the end of this season and could command a high dollar contract, ala Andy Dalton. The Browns may not be willing to pay that amount. They also have Manziel as a backup but have not shown confidence in the young backup.
Adding Griffin would obviously increase the scrutiny in Cleveland but the front office and coaching staff showed this off-season that they could handle it. A competition between Griffin and Manziel would draw the eyes of every NFL fan. Both QBs would have familiarity with the offensive system which would create an even playing field.
The Browns close proximity and relationship with the Cleveland Clinic would also give Griffin access to the best doctors in the world on an almost daily basis. It is possible that the Clinic could help Griffin’s health issues, following the Browns acquiring him, giving his body a chance to heal completely.
The Browns also have a ton of extra draft picks. Many experts, or anonymous NFL GM’s, are placing their guesses around a 4th round pick. The Browns just happen to have an extra one of those from the Sammy Watkins trade. The Browns have an extra 1st, 4th and 6th this up coming season, giving them plenty of room to navigate. (If they traded the Bills 4th they would have traded Sammy Watkins for Justin Gilbert, who has time to develop, RG3 and whoever they draft with the Bills 1st rounder. Interesting!)
Finally it is possible that Griffin could return to the performance he put on his rookie season. Very rarely do players peak the first year in the NFL. Even his injuries are things that can be overcome, like Adrian Peterson did with his knee injury. In a year or two RG3 could be back at the top of the pedestal he was on just a couple years ago.
There are also quite a few reasons to say that Griffin would not be a fit to be rebuilt with the Browns. Kyle knows first hand how RG3, and his power grabs, can impact a team. He watched as Griffin was able to force Mike Shanahan to play him even when the elder Shanny didn’t think it was a good idea. Kyle knows that the star RG3 makes things tough for coaches trying to get the best out of Robert Griffin III.
His health issues are also not likely to just disappear. He likely isn’t getting much bigger, his frame is slight, which means he is far more likely to get hurt. This is a similar concern with Manziel. Griffin also does a terrible job of taking hits. Many receivers, smaller backs and running QBs do a great job of not getting hit square by either turning their bodies, getting down or getting out-of-bounds. Griffin has never developed this skill and puts himself in the way of getting hurt very often.
While the front office and coaching staff showed they can deal with a QB competition it is not best for the team or whoever is the starting QB. The starter needs to get the most reps and get on the same page with the rest of the offense. If next season that is Hoyer, Manziel or another QB it is important that it is clear going in, especially for a team that likely will have high playoff aspirations. If the team decides on Hoyer or Manziel expect the other to be let go. Adding RG3 to the mix likely will not help that process.
Griffin’s contract is also a high level concern. He is on the books for just over $3 million next year but the following year is an extension year that could be up to 18 or 19 million dollars. It is a part of the new CBA for high drafted player where they get paid the amount of the Transition Tag for his position. The team with RG3 has until early May of 2015 to make that decision. The Redskins, or Browns in this case, could turn down that year but still negotiate a contract extension. Yet that would make for a very risky decision at the most important position on the field.
Finally, while the Browns have a ton of trade assets and young players, 4th round picks are expected to be starters in the league within the first 3 seasons. Trading one for a player who has a long history of injuries, would likely have to compete for the starting spot and has a big contract issue is a risk. The Browns have shown under Ray Farmer that they are willing to make big moves but RG3 gives big reasons for pause.
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What Will Happen?
Likely the Browns will not be involved in anything related to Robert Griffin III. Yet what happens if they are not sold on either Hoyer or Manziel? They could look to trade Manziel to any number of teams while holding Hoyer ransom under the Franchise Tag before trying to move him to the Titans or Texans who are reportedly interested. That would obviously be putting a lot of stack in RG3, which the Redskins know is risky.
Could Hoyer be tagged for a year, Manziel traded and Griffin brought in as the backup for a season before taking over for Hoyer in a year? Possible. How about letting Hoyer walk and putting two mega stars, Johnny Football and RG3, in a QB competition? Talk about Mega Power Collide (old school WWF reference).
In the end the Redskins are likely to move Griffin to a team for a pick and look to move on while the Browns try to decide between Hoyer and Manziel. However don’t close the door all the way on RG3 being rebuilt in Cleveland. You just never know.
Do you think the Cleveland Browns should trade for RG3?