What a difference a couple of less-than-expected seasons and, more to the point, a rapidly deteriorating physical state can make.
It almost seems like just yesterday when Robert Griffin III was the toast of D.C. and seemingly on the verge of being able to boast of the same distinction about all the NFL.
But things have now changed. So much so that several media outlets are now speculating the Washington Redskins have no plans to move to extend RGIII’s soon-to-be expiring contract in the here-and-now and may even allow it to play out to the point of allowing him to become a free agent after next season.
And at the rate the injury-prone Griffin always seems to be falling or feuding with teammates over his perceived locker room arrogance, who knows if he will even last that long.
For sure, RGIII still talks a good game, telling reporters prior to the start of the season that he felt he had “nothing” to prove to himself or his teammates even though he has played in just 15 games since his dynamic rookie season and when he has been able to has rarely looked like the same player.
The Redskins hired Jay Gruden as coach during the offseason with the expressed purpose of retooling Griffin’s game, turning him into the pocket-passer he’s never been, yet still respecting and taking full advantage of the mobility that’s long made him such a freak at his position.
To say expectations born of RGIII being such a unique talent have fallen short would be akin to saying the former Heisman Trophy winner has struggled just a bit since his legendary rookie year. All the scenarios that have played out between now and then make the difference in who he seems to have become seem like several lifetimes.
The 24-year-old Griffin no longer even rates as the toast of his own locker room, let alone all of the nation’s capital. And now Redskins’ management is idly sitting by, not so much as lifting a pen or checkbook to try to ink him to an early deal over the long haul, the same way the 49ers have done with Colin Kaepernick ($126 million, $61 million in guaranteed money) or the Panthers have been negotiating with Cam Newton to do so.
Griffin lasted all of two games this season before going done with yet another leg injury, fueling all the debate of if the Redskins should have even still been considered his when he returned in Week 9. Griffin was sacked five times in Washington’s 29-26 loss to the Vikings, by far the most such hits absorbed by any Redskins quarterback all of this season.
It’s not as if he’s ever shone bright like a diamond in Gruden’s glitzy West Coast offense, often being criticized over the first two weeks of the season for holding on to the ball too long and not being on the same page with his potentially explosive wideout tandem of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
But the decision the Redskins have to make goes far beyond a simple pass play or even a single game. Their silence seems to be speaking volumes about what they’re starting to see in and feel about RGIII.