Is RG3 really finished in Washington?
It’s another round of confusing, contradictory rumors about RG3′s future in Washington. Let’s take a stab at figuring out what the latest round of leaks are really trying to tell us.
There was never supposed to be a quarterback controversy in Washington, not after 2012 when the team’s brass gift wrapped a trunk full of draft picks for the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and Robert Griffin III. It took a year for all of that to get swallowed up by Dan Snyder’s sinkhole of dysfunction. The question of whether or not RG3 still has a future in Washington has gotten even more confusing in the week since head coach Jay Gruden benched him.
Washington supposedly still envisioned RG3 as part of the team’s long-term plans. That was the party line when the move was announced last Wednesday. That seemed like a questionable assertion at the time, and Jason Reid of the Washington Post, among others, were saying that the quarterback would not be back in 2015.
From the team’s perspective there was nothing else they could say. Telegraphing publicly that the team was planning to move on from RG3 sank whatever trade value they might be able to get from him, and they had him under contract through 2015 on a cap-friendly deal. Suitors could lowball GM Bruce Allen or just wait for them to cut him. That would be a tough loss for Washington considering what they spent to draft him in the first place.
Things got real weird on Wednesday with dueling reports about RG3′s status with the team coming hours apart from each other. The first one, from Reid, said that Gruden wanted him gone. A second one, from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said that RG3 could still end up starting games this season.
What gives? Who’s saying what and to what end? Let’s explore the possibilities.
Gruden wants him gone
Reid’s report from Thursday, citing team sources, said Gruden was “done” with Griffin. The quarterback was too much of a “project” to invest the time into fixing. The story also suggested that Gruden didn’t really think RG3 had the maturity or desire to be fixed. So where could this report have come from and why?
- It’s possible that it came from RG3′s camp as a means to help expedite his way out of town, but that seems unlikely given the picture of him portrayed in the report.
- The most obvious source is that it came from someone in Gruden’s camp making its case for going in a different direction, cranking up the rhetoric in the media by offering their own frank assessment of RG3′s ability. It could even be a way to tell his bosses that they have to choose between the quarterback or the coach.
But he could still start this season?
Of course, he could still start this season. Washington’s offensive line isn’t very good and neither is Colt McCoy. RG3 could be pressed into service for the most common reason any backup quarterback gets the call. That’s how Gruden reacted to it speaking to the press early Friday afternoon.
Gruden on Schefter report: there’s a chance any backup QB could play. They have to be ready. “I don’t know why that’s groundbreaking news.”
— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) December 5, 2014
However, Schefter’s report sounds more deliberate than just regurgitating common knowledge about how a depth chart works. So where could this info have come from and why?
- The most obvious answer is that it came from the front office, the general manager, trying to salvage some trade value so RG3 isn’t totally a sunk cost for the team. It would make some sense to let him play, telegraphing that they’re evaluating him for those long-term plans they insist he’s still a part of.
- It could also be coming from RG3′s camp, letting other teams know that he can still play and is an attractive option for a quarterback-needy team. There’s also the business angle to consider. It can’t be attractive for companies spending endorsement dollars to have a backup quarterback pitching their product.
- Knowing Washington, Schefter’s report coming hours after Reid’s might also be a sign of a divided front office. Allen’s in a tough spot if he has to cut bait on a quarterback and have nothing more than a 9-7 season and one playoff loss to show for such a hefty investment in a single player. He could be sending a message to Gruden that the head coach doesn’t get to make ultimatums about big roster decisions.
And what about Snyder in all of this? Another report from Thursday said that the owner was reportedly “confused” about what went wrong with his quarterback. At one time, he and RG3 were inseparable. They’re neighbors. And Snyder palled around with RG3 like a guy in the sports bar who gets to hang out with his favorite player for a day. Is he suddenly ready to send Griffin packing?
The sources and their motivations in case ultimately don’t matter. It’s just another reminder that Washington’s front office can’t get out of its own way, and that’s the most the most indisputable Washington NFL team fact of all.