ASHBURN, Va. -- The difficult part isn’t debating whether or not Robert Griffin III will get another job. Not in a league where quarterbacks struggle every week and teams are desperate to find them. No, the tough part will be deciding where that opportunity arises.
The Washington Redskins will release Griffin at some point after the Super Bowl and before the next league year begins on March 15, rather than pay him the $16.2 million option for 2016. After that for Griffin it becomes tricky.
Based on conversations with multiple people involved in the NFL, from coaches to scouts and executives, a few things jumped out: They believe he will be signed; they’re not confident he will develop because of what they perceive as his lack of natural instincts for the position, his skills in the pocket, and his failure to throw well on the move. They said he needed to go somewhere he could sit and fully learn another offense.
Still, as one coach said, “When you look around the league, someone will give him an opportunity to compete ... because of his athleticism, it gives teams something you have to prepare for.”
For what it’s worth, multiple coaches said -- after a season in which Griffin received praise for handling his demotion -- they were turned off by the note he left in his locker on clean-out day. While it had been hanging in his locker all season, they did not like that it was the one note he left after taking down everything else.
“That was a blatant, 'It’s not on me, it’s on everybody else,'” one coach said.
But here are the teams that were mentioned most and why they felt this way:
Why it makes sense: Because the Texans don’t have a quarterback and need to consider many options (read: every option). Griffin, of course, grew up in Texas and starred at Baylor.
Why it doesn’t: Because, as one coach said, Bill O’Brien’s coaching background has featured drop-back passers. Griffin has not shown at all that he can be such a passer, something the Texans had to see during their three days of practices against the Redskins this past summer or in their season opener in 2014.
Why it makes sense: Andy Reid. He’s one of the more adaptable coaches in the NFL, and Redskins broadcaster and former tight end Chris Cooley has long thought he’d be good for Griffin. Also the Chiefs’ offense has some similarities, including terminology, to what the Redskins have been running. They also have a quality starter in Alex Smith.
Why it doesn’t: The Chiefs have backups experienced in their system in Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray. There’s no guarantee they’d view Griffin as a better backup (this isn’t about arm strength or athleticism).
Why it makes sense: Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman worked with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and now has Tyrod Taylor. Unlike most teams, the Bills would not have to revamp their offense for Griffin. Multiple people mentioned the Bills.
Why it doesn’t: Because the Bills could end up giving Taylor a sizeable raise this offseason, and Griffin’s presence could lead to problems they don’t want (Taylor looking over his shoulder perhaps).
Why it makes sense: One coach said "anywhere Chip Kelly lands" would be the most natural fit. And one Redskins player said Kelly would be good for Griffin because he simplifies the game for quarterbacks and his offense is more “straight forward.” Another coach mentioned Kelly, too, because he uses elements of what Griffin did at Baylor and incorporates quarterback runs.
Why it doesn’t: The 49ers already have Kaepernick under contract and might not want him. While Kelly has run a spread offense and that’s what Griffin ran at Baylor, they weren’t exactly the same so it’s not necessarily a perfect fit. Also, Griffin is less of a run threat than he was in 2012 thanks to his knee and ankle injuries, and he’s shown an inability to adequately protect himself.
Why it makes sense: Because they use some zone read, and with Cam Newton the Panthers have a quarterback who often makes plays with his legs. So the receivers would be used to that as well (not every receiver plays well when quarterbacks go off-schedule).
Why it doesn’t: The Panthers have veteran backup Derek Anderson behind Newton. Anderson has been in the system for four seasons. It’s hard to imagine they’d view Griffin as a short-term upgrade.
Why it makes sense: Because owner Jerry Jones would be involved. The Cowboys need a strong backup for Tony Romo. No doubt Jones would love to stick it to his buddy Daniel Snyder by somehow revitalizing Griffin. One scout mentioned Dallas because of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who has shown in the past he likes the deep ball. From 2012-14 Griffin ranked 13th in QBR and third in passer rating on throws that traveled 30 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats and Information. "He's not built for timing or rhythm passes," one scout said. Also, Griffin starred at nearby Baylor.
Why it doesn’t: One coach called this scenario a long-shot (though Kellen Moore is far from a proven backup, the coach heard they might like him enough to try and develop him). Another coach said the Cowboys would have to change their scheme too much to accommodate Griffin.
Why it makes sense: One executive mentioned the Seahawks because they have a quarterback with similar skills in Russell Wilson and an offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell who can tap into those skills. One assistant coach said he didn’t think it was feasible for a team with a different-style starter to sign Griffin; that’s why he mentioned Seattle.
Why it doesn’t: While Griffin’s skills are similar to Wilson's, the latter has proven to be the much better quarterback, especially on the move. Backup Tavaris Jackson’s familiarity with the offense could be a separator.