Robert Griffin III's career started off with a bang. Coming off a Heisman winning collegiate season, the no.2 overall pick in 2012 won Rookie of the Year (over Andrew Luck!) by throwing for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns and by rushing for another 815 yards and seven more scores. The Redskins went 10-6, winning seven in a row to finish the season, and clinched the NFC East for the first time in 13 years. It was one of, if not the best rookie season a quarterback has ever played with a record passer rating for a rookie. Dan Snyder, the owner who gave up a kings ransom to the Rams for the rights to draft RG3, looked like a genius. Then, the injury that forever derailed the rookie's career occurred.
Griffin suffered a torn LCL and ACL in his right knee during their first playoff game against the Seahawks (the same ACL was torn in 2009). After making a stunningly fast recovery, RG3 was deemed ready to play by the start of the 2013 season. However, in his second season, he threw for only 16 touchdowns and ran for half as many yards as he did as a rookie with no rushing scores, en route to a 3-13 season for the 'Skins. "Chalk that one up to his recovery," experts thought. "He'll be better next season," the faithful fans ranted. Oh, but how wrong everyone was, and now Dan Snyder has a big decision to make heading into the offseason.
With the subsequent benching of RG3 this season and head coach Jay Gruden proclaiming "he's done with him," Robert Griffin's future in Washington is in doubt. The team has until May 3, 2015 to extend his contract to a fifth season which would pay him roughly $18.4 million. If they do not pick up the option, they owe him about $3.3 million for 2015 only (but will take a cap hit of $6.7 million). It's likely at this point that the one time Washington Redskins savior could find himself starting over in a city other than D.C. next season. This is a list of the 10 most likely places he could end up. And while people around the sports world have made cases for the Giants, Cowboys, and especially the Eagles as possible destinations, it's unlikely that the proud Dan Snyder would trade with a divisional foe and risk having RG3 beat them up for the rest of his career, so they have been left out.
10 Cleveland Browns
The concept of having Brian Hoyer lead a football team is a hard pill to swallow for the unfortunate fans of the Cleveland Browns. Even though they are in playoff contention this season, the fact that Johnny Football is waiting in the wings has Clevelanders chomping at the bit. Looking at the numbers, Hoyer isn't lighting up the league statistically and the Browns have just as good a chance to not make the playoffs. Even though Manziel is unproven, just as many people think he won't succeed as those who do. Enter RG3! If the Browns choose to let Hoyer walk after the season, perhaps they could trade for Griffin III and create a QB competition next season. The upside of both of them is that much greater than Brian Hoyer. Sorry Brian.
9 St. Louis Rams
As previously mentioned, Dan Snyder is a proud man. In 2012, the Redskins traded three first round picks and a second round pick to the Rams for the 2nd overall pick in that year's draft, the same pick used to draft Robert Griffin III. The Rams turned those picks into six key players including: DT Michael Brokers, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Alec Ogletree, WR Steadman Bailey, RB Zac Stacy, and OT Greg Robinson. In fact, the Rams sent all six of those players out for the coin toss in Washington this past Sunday.
I'll go out on a limb and say the Rams won that deal in a landslide. But, what if in the end, the Rams think RGIII would be an upgrade over Shaun Hill, Austin Davis, and (Sam Bradford if he comes back) and end up trading say, a 4th rounder back to Washington for him? Well, then St. Louis may have just pulled off the greatest trade robbery since Jimmy Johnson's Herschel Walker maneuver. Dan Snyder may just release him outright rather than be on the other end of this deal.
8 Oakland Raiders
In the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders selected QB Derek Carr from Fresno State. Carr, who ranks fourth or better in the NCAA in all major career passing statistics, has completed 60% of his passes, thrown for almost 2,500 yards, and has a 14:11 touchdown to interception ratio. On a team with one of the worst offensive rosters in the NFL, Carr has shown promise that he could be the franchise quarterback the Raiders desperately seek. That being said, with a new head coach most likely in place next year, things could change for Carr. Perhaps, Jim Harbaugh comes across the bay and wants to start fresh with "his own guy." A scenario like this could see RG3 playing in the silver and black next season, especially if Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie doesn't return.
7 Houston Texans
The Houston Texans want QB Ryan Mallet back next season and they've already told him so. Mallet, however, will be a free agent. Unfortunately for him, he was injured in his second career start and didn't have the opportunity to show the league what he can do, aside from a solid start against the Browns so it's likely that he and Houston will be able to settle on a two or three year contract this offseason. Also on the roster next season will be QB Tom Savage, drafted in 2014. And then there's Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's on the books for $3.9 million next year and is once again the current starter, but he isn't the quarterback of the future for the Texans (even if he did just throw for 6 TD's in a game). If Houston believes this is just an outlier, which it probably is, they could look to trade for RG3 and bring him in to compete with their other two young quarterbacks next year, which would end up leaving Fitzpatrick as the odd man out.
6 Tennessee Titans
For Robert Griffin III, there may not be a better place to start over. Playing in Tennessee and taking the place of Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst, the pressure to succeed couldn't be any lighter. While Ken Whisenhunt has done good things with quarterbacks in the past, his track record indicates he may prefer to work with somewhat experienced quarterbacks over rookies (remember, he turned to Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart back in his days with Arizona). RG3 presents the opportunity for the team to acquire such a quarterback at a minimal price, with the possibility of a quicker payoff than drafting a QB.
5 San Francisco 49ers
How crazy would it be for the 49ers to acquire Robert Griffin III from the Redskins? Considering Blaine Gabbert, one of the worst quarterbacks of all time (statistically speaking), is backing up Colin Kaepernick, it wouldn't be that crazy. Granted, RGIII would be one of the highest paid backups in the league, but a year on the bench may be just what the doctor ordered. One could also argue that Kaepernick and RG3 have similar playing styles meaning that, in the event of an injury, a switch at quarterback would not be such a strain on the offense. If you also take into account the fact that Kaepernick seems to be plateauing with his development this season, acquiring Robert Griffin III could create a sense of urgency, pushing Colin to that next level. Or, RG3 could be affordable franchise quarterback insurance in case Kaepernick is unable to take himself, and the team, to where they want to be.
4 Washington Redskins
The world is down on Griffin right now and rumors out of Washington are that Dan Snyder is ready to give up on him. However, we know that Snyder is a strong-willed, proud, successful man, who could decide by the end of the season that Colt McCoy, or any other available quarterback isn't the answer. Or maybe he comes to the decision that Griffin hasn't had a fair go of it. Among the slew of injuries, he's had two head coaches in three years, and Snyder has already chosen Griffin over one of them. Reportedly, Jay Gruden is finished with RG3 now (much like Shanahan was) so again, Snyder will possibly have to choose between the two. With the haul Snyder gave up to get RG3, and the fact that Washington is at the bottom of the division yet again, there's a chance Griffin gets one more chance with the team that drafted him.
In fact Jason Reid of the Washington Post recently reported that if Gruden can't make it work with Griffin, that he could be the one sent packing. Reid writes:
"Although it’s unknown whether Snyder and (Bruce) Allen eventually will agree to trade Griffin, what has become clear from recent conversations with Redskins officials is that Gruden believes he needs a clean break from Griffin to focus on fixing Washington’s (3-10) mess. And if Snyder and Allen commit to Griffin as the starter in 2015, Gruden could be “one and done,” a team official said, alluding to Gruden possibly being fired despite four years remaining on his guaranteed five-year contract. "
3 New York Jets
Even Kim Kardashian thinks this would break the internet. Nobody knows who will be coaching them next season or who the quarterback will be. Do they roll Geno Smith back out there next season? With an offensive minded head coach, he could play up to his potential. Michael Vick certainly isn't the answer. With a top pick in the 2015 draft, the Jets could in fact draft yet another project... or, they could trade for RG3 and give him the job outright. Woody Johnson is a wacky owner who loves to steal the headlines from the Giants and a move like this would definitely accomplish that. It could also end the flying banners over their practice facility and help fans forget about the likes of Geno, Tebow, Vick, and Sanchez.
2 Buffalo Bills
When the new owners of the Buffalo Bills took over, their intention was not to have Kyle Orton lead the team to mediocrity. With the longest playoff drought in the NFL, the Bills and their fans are desperate for a winning team. It's been 18 years and 16 different starting quarterbacks since Jim Kelly played. E.J. Manuel, who in my opinion hasn't had a fair shot, has fallen out of favor in Buffalo. Adding RG3 to the mix here would create stiff competition for next season and another layer of excitement the owners can build upon. Buyer beware though... Bringing in RG3 and not making him the starter could create the same "over the shoulder" tension for whichever quarterback they settle on, much like it did to Manuel this season. If Buffalo does in fact trade a high to mid-round pick for Griffin, they should plan on committing to him fully, and letting Orton or Manuel wear the headset.
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On January 2 of this year, the Buccaneers hired Lovie Smith to be the head coach. On March 12, they signed QB Josh McCown and made him their starter. September 18, McCown got hurt after starting the season 0-3. Ten days later, Mike Glennon made his first start and won his only game before losing four straight. McCown then returned in week 10 and has only one victory since. It's been an unsettling and unspectacular season for both quarterbacks.
Clearly, McCown has proven he cannot be "the guy" just as he did as a starter in Arizona. Tampa Bay and Lovie Smith have a dire need for a franchise guy, and they are looking at the same two decisions most of the teams on this list have. Take a QB in the first round of the draft, make a trade or sign a free agent. After such a disappointing season, Lovie Smith may not be interested in developing a rookie and he has a track record of trading for QB's going back to Chicago. Griffin can come in, get a fresh start with a new team, and be the veteran guy Lovie can work with, having the greatest upside of any other quarterback on the roster.