A day before his $750,000 roster bonus was due, the team let the former NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year hit free agency, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The team later made the announcement official.
His final line for 2016: 87 for 147 for 886 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed 31 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
The problem for Griffin now becomes finding an organization willing to put the time and effort into building him back up. That seemed to be the plan for Browns head coach Hue Jackson, but after a shoulder injury sustained by Griffin in the season opener derailed his season, there was no time and no foundation on the roster to make it work. As Rapoport noted, the club will give 2016 mid-round pick Cody Kessler a chance to start this season, though they will almost certainly have their eye on other options in the draft and in free agency.
Griffin now hits a free-agent market as a puzzling entity. He is still the same person who ignited the NFL a few seasons ago as a dazzling rookie for the Washington Redskins. However, he is still the same person who looked woefully overmatched in his short time as the Browns' starting quarterback. The spiral for Griffin has been steep, but Jackson saw something in him a year ago and was willing to name him the team's captain before the season opener.
Speaking on Free Agency Frenzy on Friday, Rapoport said Griffin's prospects of finding a new NFL home for 2017 look grim.
"It's going to be a difficult market," Rapoport said. "I've talked to several evaluators, just about him in anticipation of his release by the Cleveland Browns, and I have not talked to one general manager or personnel person yet who believes he will be on a roster in 2017. Not that it won't happen, just that the people I'm speaking with do not see a fit anywhere in the NFL. It was a quick start (to his career) for RGIII, but it's going to be interesting to see where, if anywhere, he actually lands for next season."
Jackson momentarily revived Griffin's career after an impressive workout last March. For a brief moment in franchise history, there was optimism after the Johnny Manziel saga came to a crash landing. Now, the team hits the reset button once again armed with draft picks and an intense motivation to turn the team around.
Stay tuned for the next phase of Griffin's career.