<
>

Redskins coach Jay Gruden explains decision to keep Robert Griffin III

ASHBURN, Va. -- For the Washington Redskins, the decision was simple. They wanted to keep the best players around and quarterback Robert Griffin III fit that criteria. So they kept him on the roster, despite speculation that his time in Washington was possibly ending.

"We kept him because we thought he was one of our top 53 guys," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "He's a quarterback that's young and talented and done some great things."

Griffin's future in Washington remains unsettled -- is it for a few weeks or all season? But before anything can be decided, Griffin must pass the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll visit an independent neurologist Tuesday -- the same one who initially cleared him before changing his mind. Griffin had met with him again Friday.

When Griffin is cleared, there's a good chance he'll serve as the No. 3 quarterback, according to a source. Colt McCoy would then be the primary backup to starter Kirk Cousins. Gruden, though, said the backup situation would be settled after Griffin is cleared. Griffin practiced Sunday and remained on the field for 45 minutes afterward, working on his game.

With reports circulating that the decision to keep Griffin was not unanimous, Gruden said there's a reason for the team to keep three quarterbacks. Though he said earlier in camp they were comfortable going with two, Gruden also pointed to last season as proof that more than two are needed.

Last season, Griffin opened as the starter but dislocated his ankle in Week 2. Cousins started the next five games only to be benched for McCoy. After Griffin was cleared, he returned to the starting lineup only to lose his job after three starts. McCoy took over, but was hurt in his third start so Griffin returned to the lineup.

That need for depth outweighed any potential distractions that could arise from keeping Griffin, who counts $6.7 million against the salary cap whether he's here or not.

"We don't feel like he's a distraction at all," Gruden said. "You can never have too many quarterbacks in your building. It's very important. We learned that the hard way last year. You never want to use three, but this is a violent game and quarterbacks are at risk. When you have three, you want to hold onto them."

Gruden also said he hasn't heard anything about possible trades involving Griffin. If the Redskins traded him, Griffin's new team would need to pay his base salary of $3.3 million and assume the $16.15 million option for next season. Griffin can renegotiate the option.

"All I know is ... he's one of our 53," Gruden said. "That's what we're going by now."