The most discussed quarterback across the NFL right now isn't one of the players entering the draft or Colin Kaepernick or even Peyton Manning. The most discussed quarterback is a former star who shredded his knee and his relationship with two different coaching staffs.
He's an egomaniac who had one of the great rookie campaigns for a quarterback ever but has been unable to sustain anything close to that level of play. He's a player who has shown the ability to be intellectual and heady but whose smarts didn't help him become a good teammate. He's a player who has been called a savior and a cancer, a career rescuer and a career destroyer.
Despite all that we know about Robert Griffin III, according to interviews with a half-dozen front-office talent evaluators, he remains the most intriguing figure in the free-agent sweepstakes that begin this month. There are at least 10 teams giving Griffin a hard look, these sources say.
Maybe 15. Maybe more.
Teams feel they can remake Griffin off the field and transform him into a reliable pocket passer and leader on it. He's just 26 years old, as one team executive pointed out. There's still time for him to become a franchise quarterback, and right now, a team can get him for relatively nothing. It's expected that Washington will soon release him.
|Robert Griffin III Career Stats|
What I can tell you also is that some teams are privately accusing others of tampering with Griffin. This is my shocked face. Tampering is to football what logic is to Vulcans.
The team officials interviewed believe the most likely landing spot for Griffin is Los Angeles, Cleveland or Houston. Though, to be truthful, no one really knows. It's all guesswork.
The irony is there appears to be a huge market developing for a player who will soon be discarded by the organization that spent massive resources to get him.
The fact that teams are prepared to go all Mad Max to get Griffin is less about Griffin and more about the sorry state of quarterbacking in the NFL. The talent level at the position is extraordinarily top-heavy. The great QBs are countable on one hand, then there are a few good players, and the rest are on the dollar menu.
When you look at the free-agent quarterbacks this year, the options are staggering. The best unrestricted free-agent quarterbacks are Chase Daniel, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. After that comes the law firm of Schaub, Whitehurst and Gradkowski.
That putridity, along with the belief that there are few bankable quarterbacks in this year's draft, is leading personnel men to take a harder look at Griffin than they otherwise would. It also explains why Sam Bradford got $26 million in guarantees for his two-year extension.
As Kenneth Arthur pointed out for Rolling Stone this week, Bradford has missed 34 percent of his starts because of various injuries, and his passer rating when he's healthy is a meager 81. But he gets that money and Griffin gets a Walking Dead type of rebirth because the NFL is full of dudes like Brian Gabbert and Blaine Hoyer. (Or is it Blaine Gabbert and Brian Hoyer?)
The NFL has become so offense-heavy and has put so much into the quarterback position that it's created a monster. There are only a small number of human beings on the planet who can play the position competently, let alone brilliantly, and you need one of them to keep up with the times.
So teams look at Griffin and think: Do I give a talented guy another shot or roll with Case Keenum?
The part of this that no one absolutely knows is what Griffin's mindset is like now. Has he learned from his time in Washington? To be clear, some of what happened there wasn't his fault. Both coaching staffs mismanaged him. This past season, at one point, Griffin was on the scout team, playing safety. That's just an unnecessary level of cruelty.
No, Griffin wasn't perfect, but neither was the Washington organization.
Now, he gets a fresh start. It won't take three first-round picks and a second-round pick—the price Washington paid to trade for the right to draft him—to get Griffin this time around. What will it take?
The race begins now.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.