In the end, Robert Griffin III was just another name on a list, one of four players released by the Washington Redskins on Monday to create salary-cap space.
The move, expected for some time, brings an end to the quarterback’s sudden-rise-and-stunning-fall saga with a team that traded a bevy of draft picks to acquire him – and now receives nothing in return as he departs. The move gets Griffin’s 2016 contract, worth about $16 million, off the payroll before Wednesday, when the new league year begins and free agents can be signed.
It also closes the book on RG3’s tumultuous tenure in Washington. He arrived as a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 overall choice in the 2012 NFL draft – a pick that came from the Rams at the high price of three first-round selections plus a second-rounder – and immediately became a star and national sensation. He leaves having spent all of last season on the sideline, never allowed to take so much as a single snap during a game.
As a free agent, he can sign anywhere.
In a lengthy posting on Instagram, Griffin wrote: “Although my time here is over, I’m excited about what the future brings!!!! I look forward to finding the team where God has me to be and growing with that team on the way to World Championships.”
The NFC East champions also released safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson, and defensive end Jason Hatcher, part of a busy day that removes nearly $30 million from Washington’s spending toward the cap and brings the team below the ceiling. In addition, fullback Darrel Young and nose tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton indicated on Twitter that they would not be brought back.
None of those other decisions by general manager Scot McCloughan was as significant as that involving Griffin.
Four years ago, in a zone-read offense tailored to his sprinter’s speed, Griffin earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and led the Redskins to a division title. But in a home playoff game against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin at first was hobbled by a clearly hurt right knee and then wound up face-down on the turf with torn ligaments. He was never the same player and his relationship with then-coach Mike Shanahan devolved.
Griffin returned quickly from reconstructive knee surgery – “All in for Week 1” was his attention-grabbing slogan – but Year 2 did not go well. He and Shanahan clashed over Griffin’s desire to become more of a traditional pocket passer, and the QB was benched for the final three games. In 2014, with Shanahan gone and Jay Gruden in charge, Griffin dislocated his left ankle in Week 2 and missed about half the season. Gruden was critical of Griffin’s ability and he, too, sat the player.
In February 2015, Gruden declared Griffin would be the starting quarterback. But by the end of the preseason, which included a bizarre back-and-forth over whether Griffin was ready to return from a concussion, Gruden announced that Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round pick the same year Griffin entered the league, earned the No. 1 spot.
Tumbling all the way to third-string duty, behind Cousins and Colt McCoy, Griffin was in uniform once on a game day – and that was because the Redskins couldn’t find enough healthy players at other positions to fill out an active roster. Cousins was given the franchise tag by the Redskins last week and signed the tender for a one-year deal worth nearly $20 million.
The telegenic, talkative and hashtag-tweeting Griffin faded into the background last season, abiding by the Redskins’ wish that he not do interviews.
“Robert handled it very well. Obviously wasn’t happy,” Gruden said in January. “I think in the long run, hopefully it’ll make him a better quarterback. I know he grew a lot being a third-string quarterback here.”
That day, when some players cleaned out their lockers, Griffin left behind a sign filled with life advice, beginning with the line: “People are often unreasonable, irrational, & self-centered; forgive them anyway.”
Titans agree to trade with Eagles for Murray
The Tennessee Titans have agreed to acquire DeMarco Murray in a trade with Philadelphia in looking for the running back threat they’ve lacked since releasing Chris Johnson, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Murray also agreed to rework the five-year, $40 million contract with $21 million guaranteed he signed with Philadelphia last year.
ESPN first reported the trade.
Other terms of the deal were not immediately available. The Titans hold the No. 1 pick in the April draft and have eight draft picks – three in the top 64 selections.
This will be the first big move by new Titans general manager Jon Robinson, who was hired in January to turn around a franchise that has gone 5-27 since releasing Johnson in April 2014 to avoid the final three seasons of a $53.5 million deal. Johnson was the last running back to run for 100 yards in a game for Tennessee, a drought that stretches back to December 2013.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota ran for 112 yards on Dec. 6 in a win over Jacksonville, but that number was boosted by an 87-yard touchdown run. The Titans ranked 25th in the NFL last season, averaging 92.8 yards rushing per game, and new coach Mike Mularkey has talked about running the ball much more next season.
Murray led the NFL in rushing for 1,845 yards with 13 touchdowns in Dallas in 2014 and was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
He only ran for 702 yards with the Eagles last season, but he did run for 112 yards Oct. 19 against the Giants. The six-year veteran has run for 5,228 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also has 215 receptions for 1,522 yards.
Adding Murray also brings some much-needed experience to the Titans’ offense, which had rookies take 25.8 percent of the snaps last season.
Eagles trade CB Maxwell, LB Alonso to Dolphins
A person familiar with the deal says Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso are being traded to the Miami Dolphins for a draft choice.
The deal is pending physicals, and Alonso has knee issues.
Maxwell and Alonso had a disappointing season in Philadelphia after they were acquired before the 2015 season by coach Chip Kelly, who was fired before the season finale.
The Dolphins’ acquisition of Maxwell likely means they plan to part with four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, who became expendable because of a decline in his play.
Lions pushing Calvin Johnson for retirement decision
The Detroit Lions have so far shied away from giving Calvin Johnson a deadline to make his decision on retirement, but with free agency fast approaching, the team is pushing to get an answer soon.
The Lions, in conversations with the representatives of various players across the league, have told people that they hope to know in the next 24 hours what Johnson’s plans are for 2016.
Johnson confirmed in January that he was considering retiring from the NFL after nine seasons, but he has not yet spoken publicly about his decision and has not responded to multiple email requests for comment.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn explained at the NFL combine last month why the organization had decided against giving Johnson a deadline.
“That’s just the decision that we made internally to not put a deadline on Calvin,” Quinn said. “That’s something that we’ve talked about, myself, Coach (Jim) Caldwell, Rod Wood. That’s just the way we’re going to go about business in terms of what Calvin’s decision may or may not be.”
Johnson, who turns 31 in September, is a six-time Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s all-time great receivers, but his production has slipped in recent years because of health.
Still, he led the Lions with 1,214 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last year, and his retirement would leave a major void on offense.
Buccaneers’ Logan Mankins retiring after 11 NFL seasons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Logan Mankins is retiring after 11 NFL seasons.
The seven-time Pro Bowl guard played the past two seasons with the Bucs after spending the first nine years of his career with the New England Patriots.
General manager Jason Licht called the 33-year-old “one of the toughest, most intelligent and skilled players at his position” that he’s ever seen.
“Logan distinguished himself as the ultimate professional over his 11-year career and he was an unquestioned leader for us over the past two seasons,” Licht said. “His leadership, work ethic and selflessness played a key role in the development of our younger players, and he set the standard which we use to evaluate all of our offensive linemen.”
The move, which did not come as a surprise, increases the likelihood Tampa Bay will be in the market for a guard in free agency or the upcoming draft. Licht and former coach Lovie Smith began rebuilding the offensive line a year ago when they selected tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet, who both became immediate starters.
Before Lovie Smith was fired and replaced in January by Dirk Koetter, the former coach said convincing Mankins to return for another season was a top priority.
Mankins was obtained in a trade from New England during the 2014 preseason and started 31 games over the past two seasons. The Bucs rebounded from a 2-14 record in his first year with Tampa Bay to finish 6-10 in 2015, with Mankins helping pave the way for Doug Martin to rush for 1,402 yards.
New England selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft. He started two Super Bowls and 17 postseason games overall, as well as all 130 regular-season games he played for the Patriots.
Mankins was a Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and for five consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2013.
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