“If you have been in a poker game for a while, and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.”
I present this quote (attribution unclear) as the starting point of the following observation of this past week’s wild and crazy Free Agency-Trade-a-Palooza.
If the Redskins had any desire to move Robert Griffin III and salvage a shred of dignity (and value) from the transaction, I am afraid that moment has now certainly passed.
There was definite FROTHINESS in the secondary QB market this year, the likes of which I can’t ever remember seeing.
No less than the Bills (Matt Cassell), the Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick), the Texans (Brian Hoyer) the Eagles and Rams were all giggity-giggity to get somebody (anybody!) new under center. Furthermore, the Bucs and Titans are certainly in a state of NEED at the position, as are the Browns – whether they, or their party-boy “starter” fully admit it or not. (I hear that’s actually Step 1!)
And yet I have had colleagues insist that there was NO WAY the Redskins could have clawed back a SINGLE first-round pick for Griffin. Which, if true, makes US the sucker! What team would hold on to a QB with such little residual Blue Book value around the NFL?
I just can’t believe that the Rams could get a starter in Nick Foles AND a 2nd round pick for basically the SAME guy as RG3 in the form of twice-knee-repaired Sam Bradford. DID WE EVEN CALL CHIP KELLY TO ASK!?
Oh, not the same guy you say? Okay, perhaps you are right. On paper, RG3 looks clearly BETTER!
Griffin’s PERCEIVED problems with leadership and attitude are OFF THE CHARTS bad. And it’s quite possible the Redskins did everything they could to keep those from coming out publicly along the way. But when Mike Shanahan “shuts you down” to get ready for the “off-season program” (benching) and Jay Gruden openly says you are “not even close” to doing the things starters in the NFL need to do, and then report after report after report comes out about Griffin’s own lockeroom growing tired of him…. well… then you’ve got a big problem.
And the problem remains all ours right now, Redskins fans.
It is presumed that Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen still REALLY BELIEVE in Griffin and his ability to turn his career around – both on the field, and inside the stinky room where grown men dress. “Presumed”… because if those two men in big offices didn’t believe in him still, you would THINK he could have been shipped out somewhere else this winter.
And I would have been in favor of it. I don’t think Griffin will ever become the reliable pocket passer one needs in the NFL to be successful, long-term. I am somewhat agnostic to Griffin’s popularity with teammates, because I believe winning tends to cure all of that (see his rookie season). It was seeing how badly Griffin reacts to even modest pressure in the pocket this past season that made my feet go cold. It was seeing how just losing 10% of his rookie speed and edge heat due to injury rendered so much of what he likes to do irrelevant.
And yeah, there’s a delusional streak to Griffin that is rather spectacular. I can’t get over, the more I think back on it, how absurd it was for Griffin to say with a cockiness that screamed “It wasn’t ME!” that he can’t play well unless his teammates play well. Then dared to drop his name in with the likes of Aaron Rodgers.
All of this, fresh off a 27-7 thrashing, AT HOME, to Tampa Bay. The team currently ON THE CLOCK for the first pick in the draft. Griffin had 2 picks, 6 sacks, and a whopping 6.5 yards per completion that day.
My plan, would have been to hold your cards on Griffin close to the vest, and then shock the NFL world with a trade this winter. Accept the inevitable avalanche of “THAT WAS THE DUMBEST PRE-DRAFT TRADE EVER!” columns to come (hell, I wrote one the minute they made it!). Say all the right things about Robert and how “it was just the best thing for both him and the team” and then press ahead with Kirk Cousins for the next year and see what NEXT April’s draft class looks like.
And no, I don’t want Mariotta. Not even if he “falls” to us at #5. Oh, I sure as hell want OTHER teams to THINK we are going to take him, so we can trade out of the pick. But I don’t want him. I think he’s a spectacular, hard working, head-on-straight, NON-NFL kind of quarterback. Not unlike the kid with the Bible passages on his eye black.
Is “muddling through” with someone like Kirk Cousins sexy? No. But sometimes it’s the best move a team can make. While everyone agrees that “franchise” QB’s don’t come along in every draft (hell, look at Bradford’s 2010 class. It’s a barren wasteland!) the impulse remains for teams without a franchise QB to take one anyway, and hope for the best.
It’s a bad impulse.
Then when that doesn’t work out, it sets you back at least two years. Year One to hope the guy can be “the guy” and then Year Two to really have it hammered home to you that he’s definitely NOT the guy. (e.g. Ponder, Weeden, Clausen, Quinn, Locker, Smith, Gabbert, Manuel, Leinart, Freeman).
If the Robert Griffin experiment continues to go south this year, then he’ll finish 2015 and become an un-restricted free agent this time next spring. The team could – in theory – pick up his 5th year option for a cool $18.7M guaranteed, but they would have to do it by May 3rd.
The Redskins could also gather up everyone’s helmet in the equipment room, stack them in a huge pile in the parking lot, pour gasoline on it, and light it up in an inferno that leaves nothing but a gigantic plastic blob on the asphalt.
That would be about as logical as promising more money at this time to Griffin. Which means I’d say it’s 50-50. Stay tuned.