- Robert Griffin III is currently without a NFL team having last been a backup for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.
- RG III was once the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team but has bounced around ever since.
- RG III says that he would ‘love’ to return to the WFT even in a backup role.
The Washington Football Team’s struggles to find a starting quarterback since the end of the Kirk Cousins era in 2017 are well known. Since Cousins started 48 straight games between 2015 and 2017 the team has had ten different starting quarterbacks including two already this season:
In 2018, WFT employed four starting quarterbacks with Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy and Mark Sanchez all getting their turn at some point in the season. In 2019, the team used three starting quarterbacks as McCoy, Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum split duties. In 2020, Haskins and Smith were joined by Kyle Allen as starting quarterbacks. You can add Ryan Fitzpatrick to that list of WFT starters as well. In case you’ve lost count that tallies up to eight different starting quarterbacks in just over three seasons of play.
That list of nine is now ten with Ryan Fitzpatrick injured in the opening game of the 2021 season and Taylor Heinicke now in the starting role. If Robert Griffin III had his way, he’d become quarterback number eleven since 2017. RG III was at one point considered the future of the franchise in Washington starting 35 games between 2012 and 2014. He struggled to stay healthy and was released before the 2015 season. Despite that unceremonious end to his tenure in DC, Griffin now says that he would ‘love’ to return to the team–even in a backup role.
It’s well known that success in the National Football League is never a function of talent alone. There’s definitely a luck factor involved as well. Players have to have the talent to perform at the NFL level but they need to be in the ‘right place at the right time’ and get the ‘right opportunity’ as well. One obvious example is Tom Brady–he began his career in New England as a backup to Drew Bledsoe. He was forced into the starting role due to Bledsoe’s injury and–spoiler alert–it worked out pretty well for everyone concerned. There’s no question that Brady has the talent but had Bledsoe not gone down there’s no guarantee that he would have been given the opportunity to prove it in New England or elsewhere.
Robert Griffin III is the flip side to Brady’s story. He entered the NFL in 2012 after a standout career with the Baylor Bears. Drafted second by Washington, RGIII basically tore it up in his rookie season. Among other superlatives, he set records for highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback (102.4) and highest touchdown to interception ratio (both have since been broken by the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott). He started 15 regular season games, the WFT finished with a 10-6 record and earned their first playoff appearance since 2007. It was downhill from that point–he never again reached the level of success he enjoyed as a rookie struggling with injuries and inconsistent play. By the end of the 2015 season, he had sunk to third on the depth chart behind Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. He would be released by the team on March 7, 2016.
He’s bounced around with a couple of NFL teams and was unsigned for the 2017 season. He started five games for Cleveland in 2016. After a year out of the league he spent three seasons in Baltimore backing up Lamar Jackson. With the Ravens he saw action in 14 games and started 2. He injured a hamstring late in the 2020 season and ended up on the IR list before being waived by the Ravens in January 2021. He’s since been working with ESPN though his deal allows him to sign with a NFL team if the opportunity comes up.
You can’t blame him for trying to lobby for a return to Washington with an uncertain quarterback situation there. RGIII appeared on The Adam Schefter Podcast today to make it clear that he’d welcome a return to DC–even in a backup role. He also stressed that he thinks he can still play in the NFL:
“When I see all these opportunities, guys maximizing (them), that’s what I wanna get to. I know this year, I mean it’s the season, (so) you’re not competing to be [a] quote-unquote starter in the season, so for me, it’s about … a team has an injury or they wanna bring me in, (that’d be) awesome. I’m on board for that.”
“I do firmly believe not only in my own ability and I’m a young 31, because I haven’t had an opportunity to really play the game for about five or six years, extensively.”
Schefter asked RGIII about a return to Washington to which he answered:
“That would have to be something that Coach Ron Rivera and the team would be open to. You never say never. Would I be open to it? Yeah, I would love to go back and be able to have that come full circle. But am I begging for that or pleading for that? Nah. But if your guy goes down, make the call. Wouldn’t it be a great story?”
For now, Taylor Heinicke is the starter in Washington and with a win under his belt is off to a good start. There’s a lot of uncertainty about the status of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has a hip subluxation and for now plans to go the ‘rest and rehab’ route instead of surgery. The current timeframe for his recovery is eight weeks though that is subject to change. With Kyle Allen the only other QB on the depth chart the most viable scenario for the WFT to bring in another player–RGIII or otherwise–is a setback that keeps Fitzpatrick sidelined. Then there’s the little matter about whether or not Rivera would *want* to bring in RGIII. He’s by all accounts a solid guy but an injury prone quarterback at age 31 is a tough sell, no matter what his history with a team might be.