With the 2016 NFL season about to begin, and the Cleveland Browns kicking off another rebuilding project, it’s also time to hype up Robert Griffin III, and throw words of confidence about a quarterback who needs as much pampering as possible.
When Griffin was signed on a two-year, $15 million deal, many saw him as a “bridge quarterback”; someone with some NFL experience the Browns hope to get the most out of, but not expecting to become their franchise quarterback, simply waiting for another “sure thing” to come out of the draft. But the Browns insist they see Griffin as someone they can develop to be their long term quarterback, planning on putting pieces around him and tailoring the offense to his abilities.
Confident or not, the Browns do have a pretty comfortable out in 2017 if Griffin’s first season in Cleveland doesn’t work out. Cutting him next season means $7.5 million in cap savings, and only $1.5 million in dead money. Obviously, if he does well, and resembles the rookie who wowed everyone in 2012, the Browns will be happy to move on forward with Griffin. But even if they are truly confident he can be that player again, it’s only logical they leave themselves with an out.
To be fair to Robert, he’s young in his career in terms of his development as a quarterback. We will develop him over time. He’s under contract here two years, but we don’t look at it as certainly just a two-year venture or a week-to-week venture. This is something we’re going to have to stick by him, put the right pieces around him and help him learn how to play that position as well. So it’s not a short-term kind of look at him.
Griffin didn’t play a single snap in 2015, and since his rookie year has been average at best, but usually far worse, starting in 20 games (playing in 22) and posting a 83.7 passer rating, while being sacked a worrisome 9.6% of the time. For someone who relied so much on his ability to get out of the pocket and throw, or simply move quicker than the defense chasing him, there will always be the doubt, and for good reason, that he can become an effective pocket passer, or something of the sort.
The Browns do have backups in Josh McCown and Cody Kessler. McCown had a lot of teams going after him hoping to make a trade, but the Browns will probably wait and see how this season develops. McCown is surely not their franchise quarterback, but if Griffin gets injured or struggles, we’ll see the Browns famous impatience take effect, and McCown come in, although this will throw their entire process off track, only to begin another one, which is a way of life for the Browns.