Divorce Is the Only Option Left for Robert Griffin III and Washington

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterAugust 31, 2015

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III sits on the bench in the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

There was a very telling moment recently in the messed-up soap opera that is the football team in Washington—and its embattled, concussed/not concussed/then sorta concussed quarterback. A very telling moment indeed, practically unnoticed.    

It happened when former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik, now an analyst for ESPN, was asked how would he handle the current mess if he were GM in Washington.

Dominik's answer was telling: "I don't throw the owner under the bus, which is what's happening right now."

So, not to go all Narcos conspiratorial on you, but Dominik is close friends with Bruce Allen, Washington's team president.

It's unlikely Dominik was taking a shot at Allen. It's more likely Dominik was expressing a notion that I've heard from a number of team sources around the league: that coach Jay Gruden, or someone on his staff, is behind the leaks. And that the story by ESPN's Dianna Russini and Adam Schefter stating the organization is split on Griffin is accurate.

Within hours of the report, a legion of denials flooded various media outlets. But it is impossible to believe the story was created magically out of atoms and air.

Then the story gained more credence, of course, when the team named Kirk Cousins the starter for the season.

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Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

The team sources I've spoken to believe Washington will eventually cut Griffin. One team executive who has spoken to Washington about a Griffin trade said that the most teams have offered for the quarterback "is a fifth- or sixth-round pick."

Cutting Griffin, I'm told, would count about $6.6 million against the salary cap. That's not a terrible hit.

There is a bottom line with all of this, and it is a simple one. The team has to cut Griffin. It has to. There is no choice now. In Washington, he's deader than Richard Nixon.

The constant talk that the coaches don't want Griffin—in other words, the backstabbing of Griffin from the team itself—has eroded his leadership in the locker room. One thing you rarely hear from the locker room is support for Griffin.

There's little doubt Griffin has to take some responsibility for the current mess. He's been at times petulant (like all quarterbacks) and unyielding (like all quarterbacks). He hasn't always studied as hard as he should have, and we are also now at two coaching regimes that have had difficulties with him.

Ryan Clark, an ESPN analyst who played in Washington last year, said on Mike and Mike on Monday that Griffin "doesn't have meaningful locker room relationships." He explained there's no one in the locker room who feels close enough to Griffin to defend him publicly. Remember, last year, Griffin was not voted a team captain.

Still, if you think Griffin is the reason the team is at this ridiculous point, or even the second- or third-biggest reason, you don't understand how non-dysfunctional franchises work.

We can get into the lengthy list of reasons the team has been such a disaster under Dan Snyder. The list is long and well-known.

The biggest problem was exemplified by this latest issue. Look at the successful organizations in the NFL—hell, all of sports—and show me one where there are consistently multiple voices leaking different agendas in the media.

During Deflategate, one of the most contentious moments in the history of the Patriots, you don't see constant leaks from the Bill Belichick camp, then different ones from the Robert Kraft camp and the Tom Brady camp.

The Packers are a solidified franchise. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have their differences, like every GM and coach, but those differences aren't aired out in the press. They stay in-house.

So why is it that in Washington, we see every thought bubble that every person in the organization has?

Leaks regarding Griffin have happened before this one. The next one about Andrew Luck will be the first.

Last year there were similar reports that the coaching staff wanted to move on from Griffin. So, again, people in the organization were leaking news about their dislike of Griffin.

Gail Burton/Associated Press

Football is a brutal sport where fairness isn't a factor, but in the case of Griffin, he doesn't deserve this. This franchise took a talented, smart player, and it broke him. Literally and figuratively.

In many ways, Washington owes him a better existence. Send him somewhere he's supported from top to bottom. Send him somewhere there aren't constant leaks. Where the coach, you know, backs his players. Where there is a single, unified voice, instead of leaks and counter-leaks and counter-counter-leaks.

It's not too late for Griffin to succeed elsewhere, but it's getting close. He looks more and more like a broken man.

He's a tough guy mentally, that's for sure. You have to be to endure this kind of ineptness on a daily basis. He can rebound, but it's getting close.

I believe the ESPN story—not the swarm of anonymous denials—and my guess is Griffin does as well. The message has been sent: We don't want you. We want to move on. That is the coaching staff's right, but the fact it was leaked to the media is wrong.

The team should do the right thing, and it's clear what that is.


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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