Browns can do better than RG III
If at first you don’t succeed, the old saw goes, try, try again.
And that is exactly what the Browns appear to be doing after spending the last two days talking with defrocked quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Why two days? Because The Third is smart, well spoken, charming and downright impressive. Off the field. That’s why.
He was same way when he was the juicy object of affection for the Browns in 2012 when he came out of Baylor with a Heisman Trophy in one hand and an extremely promising future in the other, which was attacked to a rocket.
He was the darling of the college football draft after Andrew Luck, who went first to the Indianapolis Colts. Washington and Cleveland wanted him badly.
The Redskins beat the Browns to him with the second pick of the lottery despite Herculean efforts by then Cleveland President Mike Holmgren, who attempted to give everything away except the kitchen sink in an effort to land the second pick.
Fortunately for the Browns, The Third proved quite human and quite fragile after an excellent rookie season and plunged to free-agent status after the Redskins unceremoniously cut him a couple of weeks ago after he lost his starting job last season to Kirk Cousins.
And for some reason, the Browns have rekindled that relationship. Not certain why. Perhaps it is new coach Hue Jackson’s desire to explore every possibility to rectify the biggest problem on offense.
In speaking with Griffin, it is obvious Jackson will talk with anyone with a semblance of a National Football League résumé. That’s how desperate it seems. And while The Third still has some gravitas, it had dwindled significantly.
All he has accomplished in the NFL resides in the past. He has not played in a game since December 2014. He is an injury waiting to happen.
He is not even close to being the same player he was as a rookie and for the Browns to even consider him very well could be nothing more than an exercise in futility. Giving him two days was one more than necessary.
But because it was two days, it gives rise to the notion the Browns are more than slightly interested in the young man. It also gives rise to arguments pro and con.
One faction can argue his best days clearly lie in the future. He’s only 26 years old and ostensibly fully recovered from the injuries that short-circuited his stay with the Redskins. What harm would it do to take a chance?
He still owns that strong throwing arm. Injuries have not hampered his ability to run and scare opposing defenses. It’s time the Browns employed a quarterback with those qualities.
And now an opposing view.
There is no question The Third is still a media lightning rod despite his relative absence from the NFL scene. He is Johnny Manziel all over again, but with more talent and savvy.
But stop and think. One of the main reasons he is a free agent is his predilection to play the game recklessly. He did it in college and has not learned to rein himself in and become a classic NFL pocket quarterback.
The Redskins’ offensive line never knew how to block for its quarterback because of his unpredictability. The fact he made it through most of his rookie season without getting hurt was a minor miracle. And then it all fell apart.
Now factor in that the Browns just lost center Alex Mack and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz in free agency. Loosely translated, that means the Cleveland offensive line this season will be worse that Washington’s in 2012.
The Third needs to wind up with a team that owns a strong offensive line. One that can make certain he stays vertical most of the time and affords him the kind of protection he needs.
The Browns are not that team. Their offensive line consists of perennial All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas and not much else. It very well could be the worst front unit they have had in many seasons.
This club still does not have a running game that intimidates opponents and the receiving corps, despite the anticipated return of Josh Gordon, remains one of the worst in the league.
Imagine, however, that Jackson can convince the Cleveland front office he can work miracles with The Third. He can enable the kid to fulfill the promise forecast for him when he arrived in the NFL four years ago.
It’s a stretch to think the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2012 can replicate, or even come close to replicating, what he accomplished back then. Too many obstacles lie ahead that are mitigating factors against signing him. He is clearly not the quarterback he used to be.
On the bright side for those opposing the Browns signing him, The Third has visited the New York Jets and reports indicate he wouldn’t mind playing for the Rams in their return to Los Angeles this season.
Then again, maybe the San Francisco 49ers will be interested in him in an effort to move the recalcitrant Colin Kaepernick. In that case, and if Kaepernick acquiesces and permits restructuring his huge contract, Cleveland might be a player.
Now that The Third has left Cleveland (and hopefully is forgotten by the Browns’ brass), all kinds of speculation will arise until he signs somewhere. Until such time, he will continue to maintain a shirttail relationship with Cleveland.