12:40pm: The Browns’ investment in RGIII is not insignificant. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the two-year pact is worth $15MM, with a signing bonus of $3.5MM and $6.75MM in total guarantees.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter links), Griffin can earn up to $750K in per-game active roster bonuses, and has a $750K roster bonus due on the third day of the 2017 league year. He can also make an extra $3.5MM in annual incentives based on playing time, yards, and passer rating, so the deal could max out at $22MM.
11:38am: Griffin and the Browns have agreed to a deal, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (via Twitter).
11:31am: The Browns are expected to reach an agreement with free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). While nothing is official yet, Schefter reports that RGIII will become a Brown.
The move could have a domino effect on other quarterback situations around the NFL. Cleveland had been viewed as a potential landing spot for trade candidate Colin Kaepernick, but signing Griffin will take the Kaepernick option off the table for the Browns. As for RGIII, he had been viewed as a potential fallback plan for the Jets, so Ryan Fitzpatrick may get a little added leverage in his contract negotiations with New York now that the team’s alternatives have been reduced by one.
Still, as Schefter notes (via Twitter), the Browns’ deal with Griffin could result in another veteran signal-caller becoming available. With Cleveland still likely to select a quarterback in the draft, last year’s primary starter, Josh McCown, could land on the trade block.
Griffin, the 2012 offensive rookie of the year, hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL in the playoffs that season. Although the former Pro Bowl quarterback completed a career-best 68.1% of his passes in 2014, he threw just four touchdown passes compared to six interceptions and fell out of favor with Jay Gruden. Subsequently, RGIII didn’t take a snap in 2015 as Kirk Cousins captured Washington’s starting job and ultimately received the franchise tag.
Griffin threw for 3,200 yards as a rookie, rushing for another 815, and totaled 27 touchdowns, including 20 through the air. In 2013, however, Griffin’s completion percentage dropped five points and Washington went 3-10 in games that the former Heisman Trophy winner started.
Injuries knocked Griffin out of the starting lineup in 2014 and ’15, the latter coming in the preseason, when Washington opted to shelve the former No. 2 overall pick and begin its exit strategy from its one-time franchise quarterback. The team released him earlier this month.
After Griffin reached free agency, he visited both the Jets and Browns, but the interest from Cleveland was always viewed as more serious — Jets GM Mike Maccagnan described RGIII’s visit to New York as a “meet-and-greet” situation.
With the Browns believed to be eyeing a quarterback like Carson Wentz or Jared Goff in the draft, the team could pair a first-round rookie with the 26-year-old Griffin this season, giving the franchise a pair of signal-callers with some youth and upside. Although Cleveland’s failure to develop quarterbacks in the past has been well-documented, there is perhaps some reason for optimism this time around, since new head coach Hue Jackson is widely considered to be a strong QBs coach.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.