The Washington Redskins took a very calculated gamble on Monday by announcing that they are picking up the 2016 option on Robert Griffin III for 16.155 million dollars.
Why? "He's a good football player," new General Manager Scot McCloughan told reporters on Monday. "He's got good tape out there."
He's right, especially if we are talking about the 2012 Robert Griffin but there were some brief glimpses of that guy in 2014.
People won't remember but he made several big throws against Houston that were negated by a bad call on the officials and a turnover inside then ten-yard line by Niles Paul. He was accurate in that game. He ran the offense.
Griffin got off to a great start against Jacksonville in the home opener. A couple of read-option pulls electrified the FedEx faithful before bad luck reared its ugly head back into the beautiful picture that was forming before our eyes.
Griffin had some very good moments in Minnesota and on the road against the New York Giants, mixed in with some very ugly stretches.
It was a year that nobody wanted by any means, but I assume that is what McCloughan was talking about.
Now - why else did they make the decision?
1. I have absolutely no problem (I've said this many times) with the Redskins believing in Griffin and not wanting to give up on him at the tender age of 25. Anybody that feels giving up on 25-year olds in any walk of life, especially in the NFL, should remember when they were 25. That's the nice way of saying what I would prefer to say.
2. If Griffin is significantly better this year than in 2013 or 2014, that will be a great thing and the Redskins will really be ready to roll in 2016 and instead of being faced with questions about Griffin's impending free agency or having to sign him to a new long-term contract, Washington will have cost certainty AND leverage. This is part of the decision making process.
3. By enacting the 2016 option, you now have full use of the franchise and transition tag for next off-season when you have Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Alfred Morris, Keenan Robinson & others eligible for free agency.
Obviously, you can't keep everyone but you at least have the ability to now control and restrict three separate players from leaving while keeping them on a one-year deal.
Now the potential bad news:
2. By naming Robert Griffin III the starter in mid February and now picking up the fifth-year option, you have completely taken away any dangling motivation to fuel Robert to even greater success.
Clearly, there is no guarantee for 2016 based on skill, but it is logical to think that a little extra fuel in the tank would never be a bad thing. Players are motivated by different things.
3. By picking up the option, you have eliminated the potential need to use the franchise tag in 2016 on Griffin and while that might be a good thing based on the reasons above, it also could be a bad thing.
As my friend Kevin Sheehan
pointed out to me this morning and I agree, you could wind up significantly over paying Griffin based on performance.
Confused? Let's say Griffin is only marginally better in 2015 but still leaves plenty to be desired and the team finishes (8-8). Let's also say that he stays healthy but there are no real signs of the arrow pointing up. Now what do you do?
Is that worth 16.1 million dollars? No. Not in any reasonable eye.
Griffin was (147-214, 68.7%) with four touchdown passes, six interceptions and was sacked 33 times in 2014. The Redskins were (4-12).
For the purposes of the argument, if Griffin stays healthy, and say his numbers are (250- 400, 62.5%) with 15 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, while reducing the sack totals from 33 to 25.
What is that worth? Is it worth $16.1 million? Not in my eyes, but that's what you would be stuck paying unless you then cut him for skill and try to re-sign him.
An unlikely scenario.
4. What happens if Griffin is playing above average down the stretch and the Redskins are basically eliminated with two games to go? Does Jay Gruden sit him down to preserve his body to avoid injury and therefore the injury guarantee?
Could you imagine the drama then? Oh wait, we've already been there before.
A source with the NFLPA says the union has absolutely no legal fight to be made based on this particular situation.
5. The question that will never go away is this: Was Scot McCloughan convinced by someone above him in the chain of command that Griffin's option had to be picked up? Did Dan Snyder make a promise to the Griffin family? Has McCloughan's desire to do something different already been overruled?
We'll never truly know the absolutely honest answer, but considering the history of the player, the owner and the organization - it is a question that has to at least be asked.
The last issue that has to be asked for now: Is this a good thing for Griffin??
I would argue that it is not. It just invites more drama. Either way, this season was essentially a make or break season for his Redskins tenure.
As I wrote last week
, if Griffin is going to be playing for his playing and financial future in 2015 - I am sure he would rather be a free agent heading into 2016.
The bottom line? This is a lose-lose situation for both sides as far as I can tell.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980