Last week, the Cleveland Browns turned due diligence into action—signing former No. 2 overall draft pick, Robert Griffin III, to a two-year contract.
Owners of the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, most experts out there thought the Browns would address their need for a starting quarterback there. However, reports came out that not only did the man known as RG3 come to Cleveland for a visit, but he pretty much spent the entire weekend with new Browns head coach, Hue Jackson.
After the signing of Griffin became official, NFL Network’s Jeff Darlington released an article which provided in-depth knowledge on what happened behind the scenes of the deal. In an excerpt from the article, Jackson described Griffin rolling out to complete a pass by saying, “it felt like the Earth moved beneath my feet,” according to team sources.
According to Darlington’s article Jackson told these team sources, “…how Griffin’s accuracy in passing drills was “freakish.” It was surreal and special. It was everything you remember from 2012 – and everything you have forgotten since.”
At 26-years old, Griffin’s spectacular start to his career took a downward spiral of epic proportions following a knee injury (LCL and ACL) during that rookie season. He completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions during that rookie season. He also added in 815 yards on 120 attempts with seven more touchdowns on the ground.
After his rookie year, though, things were just not the same. His mobility seemed limited, as he would go 3-10 in year two—completing 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,202 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with 489 yards rushing. In 2014, he would play in just nine games for the Redskins—amassing a 2-5 record as a starter with 1,694 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions with a 68.7 percent completion percentage. He would also rush for just 176 yards and one touchdown.
As we all know, the fall from grace for Griffin under Jay Gruden would come full circle in 2015—as he did not see the field for the team.
We could go on to list all of the reasons why Griffin fell from star in the making in 2012 to free agent afterthought in 2016, but you get the picture. Instead, I have three thoughts a few days after the signing that need to be expressed.
Signing RG3 should NOT stop the Browns from taking a QB at No. 2
Immediately after the Browns signed Griffin, social media instantly began to focus on Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack at No. 2 for the Browns—seemingly convinced the team was no longer considering Jared Goff or Carson Wentz as their long-term option. Let’s pump the brakes for a second.
If this was the 2012 NFL Draft and the Browns were acquiring that version of Griffin, we could stop the presses and declare a franchise QB on the horizon. However, the reality is—teams do not just give away franchise QBs in the NFL. Furthermore, teams that traded high picks in three drafts really, really do not just give away franchise QBs—even if they have Kirk Cousins.
What this says is there is a lot of work to be done with Griffin, and even though Jackson is talking about the “Earth moving” while watching him practice, Griffin is far from ready to be a starting QB in the NFL again. Now, this does not mean he cannot be “the guy” at the beginning of the 2016 NFL season after an offseason of working with Jackson and his people. But it does mean signing him should not prevent the Browns from whatever their plans were at No. 2 prior to his signing.
If the team believes there is a QB available in this class that can be a franchise guy, you take that player and do not look back—RG3 should not change that. Just imagine where the Seattle Seahawks would be if they would have just said, “Hey we signed Matt Flynn and have Tavaris Jackson in house…we are good,” back in 2012. Instead, they liked what they saw in Russell Wilson and drafted him—and the rest, obviously, is history.
Hue Jackson’s influence is strong in the Browns front office
For weeks, many debated who had the “ultimate” power in the Cleveland Browns front office. On one side of the table sits the “Crimson Trio” of analytics, and on the other side a football guy of all football guys in Jackson. Now, we obviously do not know what the analytics say about giving RG3 a two-year deal worth $15 million with just over $6 million guaranteed—but we do know one thing. When Jackson said he liked a guy, Jimmy Haslam responded with “Go get him,” according to reports.
After the team lost all of their top free agents on the open market, many were chalking this up to “analytics winning out.” But it seems more like Jackson is going out and targeting his guys, and was more than willing to let those who did not want to be part of “his program” walk out the door.
The two groups are likely working together to identify what this team needs to finally compete one day, but it does not appear there will be any strife between Jackson and the front office. Instead, it seems like Jackson will have a major voice when it comes to player acquisitions—which is the way it should be.
Josh Gordon may finally be a happy camper—for now
Though he is not officially back on the team, the Pro Bowl wide receiver elephant in the room, Josh Gordon, seems to be a fan of signing his former college teammate. After an offseason of speculation in regard to whether Gordon even wanted to be back in Cleveland once he is reinstated, the acquisition of Griffin could bode well for making Gordon happy.
Would be nice.. https://t.co/lkaAQ0n14q
— Flash Gordon (@JOSH_GORDONXII) March 24, 2016
Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Who cares if Gordon is happy or not, he has put us through so much as fans he should just be happy to put on the uniform once he is back. Trust me, I get it—but if we are truly looking at a “reformed” Gordon, the more things that make him happy in the locker room, the better in terms of him not going back to old behavior.
Not to mention the fact that Griffin seemingly had to turn a maturity corner of his own after four years in Washington, and he could be a positive role model for Gordon moving forward.