Robert Griffin III

Ravens’ RG3 Drawing Trade Interest

Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is drawing trade interest from other teams, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Griffin is due $2MM in 2020, though that sum is completely non-guaranteed.

Griffin, 30, currently serves as the backup to superstar QB Lamar Jackson. It’s surprising to hear that the Ravens would entertain trades for him, though it’s possible that they would like to add to their draft stockpile while replacing him with another QB2. If the Ravens move on from Griffin and do not sign or draft another signal caller, they’d be left with Penn State product Trace McSorley as Jackson’s backstop.

Last year, Griffin was called upon to start in the season finale against the Jets. The Ravens won that game 28-10, though Griffin completed just over half of his pass attempts.

This isn’t the first time that Griffin has drawn trade interest during his Ravens tenure. In April of last year, the Jaguars reportedly expressed interest in the longtime Redskins star before inking Nick Foles to a massive free agent deal.

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor and looked the part of a future NFL megastar in his rookie season with the Redskins. Health issues sidetracked him afterwards. No one expects Griffin to reprise his 2012 campaign, but he still holds lots of value for NFL teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: OBJ, RG3, Steelers

Developments over the past few days point to another complicated Odell Beckham Jr. offseason, but the Pro Bowler’s top Browns confidant does not believe he’s angling for a Cleveland departure. Multiple reports linked Beckham to being dissatisfied with his fit in the Browns’ offense, but Jarvis Landry said (video link via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot) Thursday his longtime friend is not seeking to leave the team next year. Landry has outperformed Beckham this season, despite the latter being regarded as one of the game’s premier receivers and costing far more in a trade than the ex-Dolphin did. Beckham and Baker Mayfield have yet to form a reliable connection. It appears the Browns and their highest-profile player have a long way to go to ensure they are on the same page.

Heading into the Ravens’ opportunity to clinch their sixth AFC North title, is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Should the 11-2 Ravens win their next two games, they can lock up home-field advantage for the first time in franchise history. If that happens, do not expect Lamar Jackson to play in Week 17. If they can beat the Jets and Browns, the Ravens are expected to start Robert Griffin III in Week 17 against the Steelers, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (Twitter link). This would certainly stand to aid the Steelers’ playoff hopes. RG3 has not started a game since 2016.
  • Speaking of the Steelers, they may not be able to afford Bud Dupree in free agency. Pittsburgh is unlikely to agree to terms on a long-term deal that would keep the improving outside linebacker off the market, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. The Steelers could tag Dupree for nearly $16MM but do not have much cap space to make that work. (Though, they managed to work around similar constraints in tagging Le’Veon Bell twice.) The 2015 first-round pick has recorded a career-high (by far) 9.5 sacks this season.
  • The Steelers will attempt to keep nose tackle Javon Hargrave off the market, Dulac adds. Though, the fourth-year defensive lineman is expected to hit the market. Pittsburgh is projected to possess barely $5MM in cap space in 2020. The franchise’s propensity for restructuring deals notwithstanding, the team will face a difficult task extending Hargrave and Dupree before free agency opens.
  • Jonah Williams may not play in a game for the Bengals this year, but the first-round tackle will get in some practice work to close out a lost rookie season.

AFC Notes: Caserio, Patriots, Green, Bengals, Griffin, Ravens

Patriots exec Nick Caserio addressed the media today for the first time since the Texans’ ill-fated attempt to make him their general manager. Caserio dodged most of the questions, but while he outwardly expressed commitment to the Patriots, the press “session did nothing to kill the belief that Caserio isn’t happy with the way things played out,” writes Tom Curran of NBC Sports. “I love being here, and right now we’re focused on trying to get the team ready for this season. I’m happy to be here and I love what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Caserio said when asked if he was disappointed with the way things played out.

If he really is unhappy, fortunately he won’t have to wait too long. Caserio’s contract with the Patriots expires after the 2020 draft, and the Texans are widely expected to make another run at him then. Asked whether he wants to run a team some day, he did his best Bill Belichick impression. “I’m not really focused on the hypotheticals. I’m focused on today. Honestly, I’m focused on trying to be the best version of myself each and every day,” he said. It sounds like the Caserio/Patriots partnership is just waiting to end.

Here’s more from around the AFC on a busy Saturday:

  • There was a lot of panic earlier today when A.J. Green went down with a lower leg injury and had to be carted off at Bengals practice. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it’s as bad as it could’ve been. The injury is believed to be an ankle sprain, sources told Albert Breer of SI.com, “but Green will have an MRI to make sure it isn’t something more serious.” The Bengals have already had bad injury luck this offseason, with projected starting left tackle Jonah Williams getting knocked out for the year, and this the last thing they needed. Green was hampered by injuries last year, and limited to nine games due to recurrent toe problems. If the Bengals are going to have any success under first-year coach Zac Taylor, they need Green at 100 percent.
  • Green wasn’t the only notable AFC North player to go down on Saturday. Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III “has a small fracture in his thumb,” sources told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll be sidelined for a while, but the team is “still optimistic he’ll be ready for Week One.” Griffin injured his thumb when it banged against a defender’s helmet toward the end of Baltimore’s practice, Zrebiec explained in a separate tweet. Starter Lamar Jackson and rookie Trace McSorley are now the only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster, so the Ravens will likely be adding another passer in the next day or two.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are discussing an extension with cornerback Joe Haden.

Jaguars Tried To Acquire Robert Griffin III?

While the Jaguars doled out by far the biggest contract to a free agent quarterback this offseason, their pre-Nick Foles plans look to have featured Robert Griffin III.

At multiple junctures last season, Jacksonville attempted to acquire the former offensive rookie of the year from Baltimore. The Jags attempted to trade for Griffin at the end of the 2018 preseason and made another bid to land the Ravens reserve at the trade deadline, Griffin said during an appearance on the Ravens’ The Lounge podcast (via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley).

Leading up to free agency, the Jaguars were heavily linked to Foles. But Griffin still waited until that deal was done to sign his two-year, $4MM Ravens contract.

We knew that was an opportunity and there’d be a chance if things didn’t work out with Nick Foles,” Griffin said. “We just wanted to wait and see what would happen.”

Additionally, the 29-year-old passer said this offseason he discussed a deal with the Dolphins, who were in on multiple other free agent passers who spent all or most of 2018 as backups. Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater ended up accepting offers to continue has backups, Taylor with the Chargers and Bridgewater with the Saints. Miami pivoted to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Griffin will return to be Lamar Jackson‘s backup after sitting behind both Jackson and Joe Flacco for most of last season.

I ultimately felt like those situations weren’t good,” said Griffin, who noted he discussed deals with other teams as well, of possible fits with other teams. “I’m not looking to go somewhere and be a bridge or be there for a season and go somewhere else. I’m looking for stability and opportunity. For me right now, Baltimore is the best situation.”

The Jaguars indeed possessed one of the league’s worst quarterback situations last season, benching Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler and then giving Bortles the reins back during a 5-11 season. They since cut the disappointing former top-five pick. Both Flacco and Jackson were healthy for the Ravens at the deadline, with Flacco’s hip injury not sidelining him until November, yet the eventual AFC North champions kept Griffin.

The former Heisman Trophy winner has not started a game since doing so for the 2016 Browns. He did not play in 2017. After being a cut or trade candidate during the preseason, Griffin made the Ravens’ 53-man roster last year and threw six passes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: RG3, Glennon, McCarron

Some assorted contract notes from around the NFL…

Ravens To Re-Sign RG3

The Ravens are re-signing quarterback Robert Griffin III to a two-year deal, according to a source who spoke with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). RG3 is now in line to back up Lamar Jackson and serve as his mentor for at least one more season. 

Griffin, 29, attempted a grand total of six passes last year and has not seen seen significant action since the 2016 season with the Browns. In that year, Griffin started five games and was the first-unit passer in the club’s only win. RG3 was benched throughout 2015 in order to protect the Redskins against the potential vesting of his fifth-year option and was out of football in 2017 – in total, he’s thrown just five touchdown passes since the end of the 2013 season.

It seems like ages ago when Griffin was a rising star as an NFL rookie with the Redskins. We may never see RG3 return to that form, but he could be one snap away from seeing live action in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Brown, Steelers, Ravens, Tyrod Taylor, Bengals, Dalton, Browns

As we await a resolution to the ongoing Antonio Brown saga with the Steelers, we have a new interesting piece today. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com conducted interviews with “nearly 20 former or current teammates of Brown”, to help figure out what went wrong between Brown and the team. While most that Fowler spoke with seem to acknowledge he’s unlikely to return to Pittsburgh, many spoke up in favor of Brown and said he’s being cast in an unfair light by the media.

Fowler writes that Brown “was — and in many ways still is — beloved in the Steelers’ locker room”, and that the situation is more complex and nuanced than it may appear. Many of Brown’s teammates have publicly lobbied for him to stay, and if the recent rumor is true that the Steelers aren’t getting the kind of trade offers they were hoping for, perhaps they do find a way to make it work after all. For what it’s worth, Steelers owner Art Rooney did adopt a slightly more conciliatory tone in his most recent statements to the press.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Last week a reporter mentioned Tyrod Taylor as a possible target of the Ravens to be Lamar Jackson‘s backup next season, and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh added some fuel to that fire. Harbaugh said today that he’d like to add two quarterbacks behind Jackson this offseason, ideally with a similar playing style, and the recently extended coach brought up Robert Griffin III and Taylor on his own, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Griffin served as the number three this past year, and said recently he loved his time in Baltimore, so it seems likely he’ll be re-signed.
  • The Bengals are riding with Andy Dalton, for now. Cincinnati’s director of player personnel Duke Tobin spoke recently to reporters and while he expressed some confidence in Dalton, he also left the door open for the team to draft a future replacement, according to Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Dalton has been in that gray area second tier of quarterbacks for a while now, and it’s been speculated that the Bengals could look to move on this offseason with Marvin Lewis finally out the door. Presumptive coach Zac Taylor can’t even join the team until his Rams play in the Super Bowl, and he’ll obviously have a large say in determining Dalton’s fate. Dalton seems safe for 2019, but as Page notes, the team can get out from his contract with no dead money at any time.
  • If you haven’t already read Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com‘s piece on the Browns, you need to now. Wickersham details a shocking level of dysfunction within the organization over the past handful of years since Jimmy Haslam bought the team, and it includes some bombshell details. Among other things, Haslam overruled the entire front office who wanted to hire current Bills coach Sean McDermott in favor of hiring Hue Jackson, and insisted the team take Johnny Manziel over Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 draft because he didn’t like Bridgewater’s handshake. The article does leave off on a hopeful note, as new GM John Dorsey has been able to ward off most of Haslam’s meddling and cut him out of things, but it will be very interesting to see if Haslam again inserts himself into the process in the crucial coming months.

Extra Points: Ravens, Griffin, Texans, Saints

It’s been a long road for Robert Griffin III. After he was released by the Redskins, Griffin wound up in Cleveland as the Browns’ starting quarterback in 2016. He was immediately injured and ended up playing only a few games, and was released after the year. After that he spent the entire 2017 season out of football, and it looked like his career might be coming to an end. But then Griffin inked a deal with the Ravens out of nowhere this past spring, and made the team. While he’s been the third stringer behind Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson and inactive most of the season, Griffin is just happy to be back in the league, and he described his journey in a recent sit down with Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

“It’s been special because I was not guaranteed a roster spot at the beginning of the year. I had a non-guaranteed contract, a minimal signing bonus and I had to earn it every step of the way”, Griffin said. Griffin was projected to be cut by most analysts because John Harbaugh has very rarely kept three quarterbacks on the active roster, but he had an impressive preseason and earned a spot. Zrebiec writes the Ravens first became interested in the former Heisman Trophy winner in the summer of 2017, but Griffin thought the timing wasn’t right. Griffin also reflected on his experience losing his job in Washington to Kirk Cousins while he was out with an injury, and how it relates to what Flacco is going through right now. The whole conversation is definitely worth a read.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Texans have been very impressive this year, but they still have a bunch of holes on the roster as they look to build around Deshaun Watson. The team could use help on the offensive line and in the secondary, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle “strongly believe[s]” that the team will “get an offensive tackle and a cornerback in the first two rounds” of next year’s draft. McClain is as plugged in as any beat writer in the game, so he certainly has a feel for what the organization is thinking. The Texans have an extra second round pick thanks to the Duane Brown trade, so they’ll have plenty of ammo to acquire top talent.
  • The Texans have been without an offensive coordinator for a while, but that could change soon. Head coach Bill O’brien has been acting as his own offensive coordinator since he fired George Godsey, and McClain thinks their tight ends coach Tim Kelly will be their next offensive coordinator, saying that he’s “highly thought of” within the building.
  • The Saints will be without starting left tackle Terron Armstead for at least another week, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Armstead has now missed the last month of the season with a pectoral injury. Drew Brees‘ pass protection has fallen off without Armstead, and Brees has struggled a bit with the additional pressure in recent weeks.

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Joe Flacco Doubtful For Week 11

Entering a key AFC North game, the Ravens have a decision to make. They listed Joe Flacco as doubtful going into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, putting the team to a probable Lamar Jackson-or-Robert Griffin III choice.

Flacco’s been dealing with a hip injury since Baltimore’s Week 9 loss to Pittsburgh. The veteran quarterback was spotted on crutches last week and has not practiced this week. Jackson didn’t practice on Thursday because of an illness, and a “legitimate possibility” exists of an RG3 start, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). Jackson did return to practice Friday.

John Harbaugh said Friday his starter may still play, but not practicing all week is not a good indication that will happen, Flacco’s toughness notwithstanding.

The Ravens have wanted to get Jackson involved more. Regardless of Flacco’s Sunday status, Jackson will play more. Not knowing how much obviously will make game-planning difficult for the Bengals in advance of this pivotal matchup. Griffin outplayed Jackson, viewed as a raw passer coming into the draft, during the preseason.

Griffin, though, has not played since the 2016 season. As Jackson’s been used sparingly in certain packages, Griffin’s represented roster depth. That hasn’t been needed in Baltimore since Flacco tore his ACL in 2015. The 11-year starter battled a back injury last season but did not miss any time as a result.

Griffin started five games for the 2016 Browns, being the first-unit passer in that team’s only win. Out of football last season and benched throughout 2015 in order to protect the Redskins against a potential fifth-year option vesting, Griffin’s thrown just five touchdown passes since the end of the 2013 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Keep Robert Griffin III

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The Ravens will keep quarterback Robert Griffin III on their initial 53-man roster, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Baltimore had reportedly been torn on keeping RG3, but he’ll now stick on the roster alongside starter Joe Flacco and first-round rookie Lamar Jackson. Griffin played well enough during the preseason that he forced the Ravens’ hand.

He has played at a starting-caliber level in the games that he’s played, and he’s an experienced guy,” Harbaugh said, via Hensley. “I’d rather have him than not have him, for sure, but there are other factors that go into that and we’ll have to figure all that out. [GM] Ozzie [Newsome] ultimately will have to make that decision.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.