Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s decision Wednesday to bench Robert Griffin III may spell the end of the third-year quarterback’s time with the franchise. Sources within the Redskins organization said it was unlikely that Griffin would return to the team next season, the Washington Post’s Jason Reid reports.
It’s still “too early” to speculate on whether Griffin has played his last snap with the Redskins, ESPN NFL pundit and former player agent Andrew Brandt said. The fully-guaranteed $21 million contract he signed with the team in 2012 runs through next season and contains a team option for a fifth year, so Washington is still financially committed to Griffin for the time being.
Gruden’s decision to start backup quarterback Colt McCoy over Griffin in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts is a short-term fix. A team source said Griffin is a “significant part of the Redskins’ long-term plan,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. At least some members of the Redskins front office are confident that Gruden’s tutelage, coupled with improved roster development this offseason, could eventually allow Griffin to return to the form that won him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012.
The Redskins traded three first-round draft picks in 2012 for the right to select Griffin, so it’s unlikely the franchise would simply cut him. But NFL insider Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said Griffin is done in Washington and that the franchise’s “long-term plans” for him likely involves a trade for future draft picks.
Griffin missed several weeks of action earlier this season due to a dislocated ankle, but he also appeared tentative in the pocket during his four starts – all of which ended in Redskins losses. The Redskins’ coaching staff has been critical of the 24-year-old's inability to read opposing defenses or locate open receivers. Meanwhile, Griffin’s ability to run with the ball – once considered a hallmark of his success – has all but disappeared. He has just 100 yards on 22 carries this season while being sacked at a 14 percent clip, nearly double his career rate.
McCoy won both of his starts in relief of Griffin this year, including a road victory against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys. Earlier this month, Gruden publicly voiced his frustration with Griffin’s play.
“Robert had some fundamental flaws,” Gruden said after Griffin struggled during a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to ESPN. “His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three, on a couple occasions, and that can’t happen. He stepped up when he didn’t have to step up and stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times. So from his basic performance, just critiquing Robert, it was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”
Griffin was once considered so essential to Washington’s future that Snyder sided with the young quarterback over head coach Mike Shanahan during their highly publicized dispute in 2013. But the notoriously hands-on Snyder’s willingness to allow Gruden to bench Griffin indicates that he supports his first-year coach, which could result in Griffin playing in a different uniform in 2015.