There is a certain buzz surrounding dual-threat quarterback Pat White signing with the Washington Redskins, but his ultimate role within the organization will likely be no more than a short-term fill-in for Robert Griffin III.
White's agreement with the Redskins came Wednesday, when it was first reported by Mark Maske of the Washington Post and then confirmed by several other media outlets.
A four-year starter at West Virginia and former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2009, White played just 52 snaps over one season before being released. He hasn't made much for headlines in professional football since.
After several different stints in professional baseball, an inquiry from the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League sparked White's interest in returning to football, according to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated.
Fueled by the NFL's shift toward the read-option, and with help of noted quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr., White began his attempt at a second chance in early January. After working out at West Virginia's official pro day on March 14, NFL interest eventually followed.
However, White landing in Washington has much more practical value in the short term than it does as a legitimate second chance at sticking in the NFL.
The Redskins currently have four quarterbacks on the roster: Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman and White.
In just one year, Griffin III became the face of the franchise in Washington and one of the NFL's most popular players. He was selected as the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year after combining for over 4,000 total yards and 27 touchdowns last season.
Cousins, a fourth-round pick of the Redskins in 2012, played in three games last season—including one start—and finished with a passer rating above 100. His roster spot is a lock, barring any kind of trade out of Washington.
Grossman re-signed with the Redskins Wednesday, according to Pro Football Talk, and he brings with him three years of experience in Washington from 2010-12. He is a legitimate backup quarterback capable of handling either the No. 2 or 3 duties for the Redskins next season.
Then there is White, who has been out of football for three years and was laughably ineffective during his one season in Miami. Over 13 games, White finished 0-for-5 passing and rushed for just 81 yards on 21 carries as the Wildcat quarterback.
The likely reason White is now in Washington?
Not as a front-runner to be one of Griffin III's backups but as his offseason replacement in Washington's read-option playbook while Griffin III returns from a devastating knee injury.
Griffin III needed reconstructive surgery to his ACL and LCL in early January after suffering tears in both ligaments during the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
According to Trey Wingo of ESPN, Griffin III is still aiming to be back and ready to play by Week 1 of next season. By all accounts, his rehab process is on track. In fact, it's likely ahead of schedule, given the comments made recently by Dr. James Andrews.
However, Griffin III's superhuman recovery doesn't mean he'll be ready to participate in Washington's offseason workouts or much of training camp. While he's sidelined, the Redskins will need an athletic quarterback like White to run the read-option portion of the playbook—something Cousins and Grossman likely can't.
Cousins made that exact argument to ESPN 980 Wednesday, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. He certainly made it seem like he was aware of the plan for White in Washington.
I felt like with Robert’s health where it is right now, to be able to have a guy who can do some of the thing Robert does athletically would be important, especially in this offseason time when you’re trying to stay sharp and develop your base playbook and improve your base playbook. While I believe can to some degree run those kind of things, the zone-read stuff is gonna be much better with a Pat White-type athlete in there who’s closer to Robert’s skill set.
Cousins freely admits during the interview that he isn't comfortable running the read-option plays that Griffin III and White have mostly perfected during their playing careers. At Michigan State, Cousins simply didn't receive the experience.
It's safe to say Grossman is in a similar boat, both in comfort and experience.
That brings us to White, who was starved for a chance at redemption and qualified at running the read-option.
The fit was perfect.
Maybe White will take his opportunity in Washington and run with it, literally.
He'll certainly be given every chance to show he still belongs at the NFL level, and you just never know how a guy will react to a second opportunity. If that's eventually the case, Grossman could easily be kicked to the curb.
But there's also reason to legitimately wonder if White will remain on the Redskins roster past training camp and into the regular season.
His noodle arm will always be an issue.
While the athleticism is there for White (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the 2009 NFL combine), quarterbacks who are successful in the read-option also possess the ability to beat defenses with their arm. White, after three seasons out of football, can't be counted on to have that ability.
Without much doubt, White is a long shot to make the Redskins' 53-man roster. If he's anything more than a short-term fill-in for Griffin III this offseason, he'll have exceeded realistic expectations.