Washington Redskins  

 

Robert Griffin III practiced with scout team defense at safety

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The Redskins will open their season against the Dolphins with Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback - and team sources said Saturday that Colt McCoy will back him up.

That decision makes sense for plenty of reasons, especially since Robert Griffin III was not cleared to participate in contact drills until Friday after suffering a concussion three weeks ago. But so many other questions remain unanswered beyond today's depth chart.

Most notably: Why are the Redskins keeping Griffin on the roster?

That question became especially difficult to answer this week based on occurrences during practices when Griffin, according to multiple team sources, was running with the scout team defense as a safety. Yes ... a safety.

It is also intriguing since the team has recently reconsidered the original notion that they would list Griffin as the backup once fully healthy for the entire week leading up to Week 2, a team source said. More likely now, Griffin will be the third-string quarterback.

It is not unprecedented for a third-team quarterback to handle such a duty during practice, which was the case as recently as Wednesday when Cowboys quarterback Jameill Showers served as a scout team free safety in Dallas' practice.

But for a player who was selected second overall in 2012 - and declared the starting quarterback by the head coach as recently as a few months ago - this is no doubt a peculiar decision. It is peculiar, however, for more than superficial and ego-driven reasons.

If Griffin had suffered an injury while playing safety, the team would be forced to pay him his $16.2 million salary for 2016. Even if Griffin is willing to handle such responsibilities, it begs the question why the Redskins would take such a gamble.

Team sources, however, contend they are keeping Griffin on the roster because of the financial investment they've already made in him for 2015, noting it's impossible to know what turn of events could make him a valuable asset for the Redskins this season.

In the meantime, it seems extremely improbable that Griffin will see the field during a game any time soon.

In addition to the team's decision to list McCoy as the backup today (that was a foregone conclusion for more than a week since the team didn't know when or if Griffin would be available), the Redskins have also reconsidered what they will do with him in the future.

Every game, all season

Originally, when it was ultimately decided that Washington would keep Griffin on its 53-man roster, one team source said the Redskins would use Griffin as the backup quarterback after Week 1. But more conversations and deliberations have since led to another possibility.

The same team source says Griffin is now more likely to be listed as the third-string quarterback moving forward. That's because, if Cousins needed to come out of the game, the Redskins would want more time to evaluate whether Griffin would be put in harm's way by entering the game  potentially costing the team his 2016 salary if he were hurt.

It makes sense. And to many, it seemed only logical that the Redskins would not want to take the chance of Griffin getting hurt and costing them money. But that also still leads to the bigger question: In that case, what's the point in keeping Griffin at all?

The best reasonable explanation could be a potential hope for a trade, something team sources would not confirm or validate. That's something that seems unlikely since no team would want to take on those very risks involved with Griffin's 2016 injury guarantees. And Griffin seemingly would block any trade by refusing to renegotiate that portion of the deal.

In past instances where a team tried to put a player on the shelf to protect from having to pay him in the case of injury, it has led to grievances. That was the case in 2007 when Daunte Culpepper was not allowed to participate in team drills after the team traded for Trent Green.

Culpepper filed a grievance for breach of contract -- and he ultimately forced his release.

That could be difficult for Griffin to do, however, since he is not technically being held out of drills. By playing scout team safety, for instance, he is serving in a role that's exactly the same as Showers in Dallas -- which by no means is against any rules.

Both publicly and privately, the Redskins are not discussing whether there is an underlying strategy, even if it's hard to imagine all of this is happening without a plan or a purpose in place. Instead, they are simply saying that Griffin remains a part of the team.

So there's really only one question that still needs to be answered: Why?

UPDATE: Robert Griffin III was listed as inactive for Sunday's game against the Dolphins.

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