NFL Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Robert Griffin III and Terrelle PryorAugust 31, 2015
The 2015 NFL season is right around the corner, making preserving starters' health and whittling down the rosters via those painful annual cuts the main priority for most teams.
However, rumors still abound as the league's rosters begin to take their final shape. Not every team is having a routine offseason. In Washington, there's controversy at the quarterback position. In Cleveland, it's a quarterback doing everything he can to make the team, even if it means changing position (no, it's not the latest twist in the Johnny Manziel story).
Here are the latest rumors from around the NFL.
Robert Griffin III's tenure in Washington has turned into quite the sad, strange saga. According to a statement from the NFL's independent neurologist, Robert N. Kurtzke, relayed by the Washington Post's Mike Jones, Griffin was held out of Saturday's preseason game against Baltimore for a possible concussion suffered on Thursday, even though it was originally anticipated that he would be available:
Griffin took a hard shot in the Redskins' third preseason tilt with the Detroit Lions, and head coach Jay Gruden faced criticism for his handling of the situation.
A concussion controversy alone would be bad enough for Griffin and this moribund Redskins team, but according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini, there's disagreement as to whether Griffin should still be on the team at all, let alone suiting up for a game:
High-ranking Washington Redskins front-office officials and coaches want to part ways with quarterback Robert Griffin III, but are meeting resistance from team ownership, according to team and league sources.
The Redskins even have had trade conversations about Griffin with a handful of NFL teams, but have found no interest, and it remains unclear whether ownership would allow Washington to trade him, sources said.
It's a disconcerting report, not only for Griffin's prospects, but for Washington as a whole. Friction between ownership and the coaching staff hardly lends itself to long-term planning or stability.
However, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio refuted ESPN's report, in that Redskins owner Dan Synder is on the same page as his staff: "Multiple sources tell PFT that, contrary to a Sunday afternoon report from ESPN, no schism exists between owner Daniel Snyder and the people he has hired to run the football operations regarding the status of quarterback Robert Griffin III."
If Snyder and his employees are all on the same page, perhaps they should be talking about trading Griffin. Quarterback injuries and uncertainty have led to the likes of Michael Vick and Josh Johnson latching on with teams in recent weeks; there could very well be a market for Griffin's services.
However, the Washington Post's Jerry Brewer noted trading him could be complicated:
Trading or cutting Griffin is a complicated decision that includes the $3.7 million he is guaranteed to make this season (his cap number is $6.7 million) and the $16.15 million fifth-year option that is guaranteed for injury only in 2016. His concussion is a major hurdle. But it’s not impossible to overcome. And if Griffin isn’t the starter anymore, there’s little worth in delaying his inevitable departure.
Griffin is only 25 years old, but his career already seems to be at a major crossroads. He impressed as a rookie in 2012, tossing 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions and dazzling with his scrambling ability. He regressed as a sophomore, and injuries and poor play saw him toss just four TDs against six interceptions in 2014.
Whatever the front office-coaching dynamic is in Washington, this has turned into one of the more depressing sagas in the league. Griffin looks trapped on a mediocre team in an offense that doesn't suit his skill set, and he's lacking the spark that made him such an dynamic player at Baylor and during his rookie season.
Kirk Cousins is an able quarterback with the potential to be at least a decent starting signal-caller in the NFL. Colt McCoy has also shown flashes when given the chance to play. Whether or not there's a concerted effort to move him, Griffin's best chance at making an impact in the league lies outside of Washington D.C.
Braxton Miller isn't the only Ohio State quarterback trying to make the transition to wide receiver this year. Turns out there's a former Buckeye doing the same thing at the pro level.
Terrelle Pryor is attempting to turn his excellent speed into a wideout job with the Cleveland Browns.
Unfortunately, Pryor hasn't taken an in-game snap as a wideout this preseason due to a nagging injury. He has one more shot to prove himself Thursday against the Chicago Bears, but even if that doesn't pan out, Pryor might still garner interest around the league, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot:
Cornerback Joe Haden believes other teams would give Pryor a chance at receiver if the Browns cut him, and a league source said there will be interest. Two premier receivers have been lost to torn ACLs this season in the Packers' Jordy Nelson and the Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin. Pittsburgh's Martavis Bryant is suspended the first four games of the season for violating the substance abuse policy, pending an appeal.
Pryor may be untested as a wide receiver, but he's managed to hang around in the NFL as a backup QB, albeit on one of the league's worst teams in the Oakland Raiders. His physical attributes alone should pique teams' interest if the Browns decide they can't keep him.
Pryor is listed at 6'4" and 223 pounds. At the 2011 NFL combine, ESPN's Adam Schefter clocked Pryor at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, excellent speed for a player his size. There's little reason to think that he's lost some of that burst considering he's just 26 and in his athletic prime (look no further than his famous 93-yard scamper for more evidence).
The praise he's received from teammates has been nothing short of effusive, per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon:
Dwayne Bowe said he’d seen enough of Pryor at receiver before he got hurt, that he should make the team. That statement was based on less than a week of practice, three days without pads.
Joe Haden said the decision on making the team was above his title (not his pay grade, Haden noted), but compared Pryor physically to Calvin Johnson.
And head coach Mike Pettine doesn't seem to be putting undue pressure on Pryor to play with a lingering injury, via Cabot:
I don't want to say make or break. I'm not going to deal with an absolute, saying he has to play, but we want to see him out there. I can't say today that he definitely will, but he should be. He was close to being able to go, and give it another week, we're hopeful he'll be out there and we'll be able to see him.
The Pryor experiment hasn't existed for very long, so it's tough to peg how this will all turn out. Cleveland needs weapons, and if there's even a hint he could make it as a big-target wideout, they should keep him even if he can't play in Chicago.
It would likely leave some other fringe players who miss the eventual final cut feeling slighted, but Pryor's physical gifts are tantalizing enough that him making the team without any live-ball wide receiver experience doesn't feel like such a risky move for the Browns.