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Redskins will explore trades for Robert Griffin III before releasing him

The Washington Redskins will part ways with quarterback Robert Griffin III at some point. But even though Monday is the first day players can be released, that doesn’t mean Griffin will be unemployed any time soon.

But, in no surprise, a source said Griffin will not be on the Redskins’ roster next season and it’s just a matter of time before he departs. The Redskins have until the new league year begins -- 4 p.m. March 9 -- to release him or his $16.15 million option will count against next season’s salary cap.

The only question now is: When will the divorce occur, and in what fashion?

But one thing is certain: If the Redskins keep Griffin around beyond Monday, it’s not some negotiating ploy with quarterback Kirk Cousins. He’s a free agent whom the Redskins want to sign to a long-term deal; they could also use the franchise tag to keep him around. But there’s little chance Cousins’ side would view Griffin’s still being on the roster as a possible alternative to their guy and, therefore, be pressured into a deal. Griffin’s side is well aware of his status in Washington -- there's a reason he cleaned out his locker the day after the playoff loss. And the Redskins already have opened negotiations with Cousins. His side is aware of what’s going on with Griffin, as well. Besides, if the Redskins feel they’ve hit an impasse, they can use the tag on Cousins (the deadline is March 1).

Griffin served as the No. 3 quarterback this past season -- and it wasn’t just because of his option being guaranteed for injury. It was because they viewed Colt McCoy as a better backup; so keeping Griffin around would not fool Cousins’ side one bit.

Rather, if the Redskins keep Griffin around for the duration, or at least for a few weeks, then it’s likely they’re trying to see if they can swing a deal. One team source called it a long shot, but said it’s worth pursuing just in case.

The sliver of hope for a potential deal all starts with Griffin agreeing to redo his option, lowering the cost to make him more marketable. If he won’t agree to that, then there will be no trade. If the Redskins do work out a new option for Griffin before the deadline to release him, it’s likely a precursor to a deal that will take place after the league year begins. The Redskins are hoping that with so many teams needing quarterback help -- whether as starters or backups -- perhaps someone will be interested in a deal for a quarterback who turns 26 later this month. The Redskins would be happy with a fifth-round pick in return, though getting anything for the 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year at this point would be good.

The only way this works is if a team wanting to trade for Griffin is one that he’d like to join. It’s likely that Griffin’s side will have a strong idea of who might be interested -- or who might not -- by the end of February. Yes, if released he’d conceivably have more of a choice so there’s incentive for him to just hit the open market. But if there’s a good pairing before that point from a monetary and scheme standpoint, then a trade could happen. It’s not likely, but if he sticks around for a while this is the main reason.