ASHBURN, Va. -- As of Friday evening, Robert Griffin III remained unsure whether his latest neurological exam would result in his clearance from the concussion that held him out of the team's final two preseason games.
It turns out, the urgency of those results no longer matters to his Saturday fate.
In a move that will likely surprise many in the sports world, the Redskins plan to keep Griffin as their second-string quarterback, team sources say, despite the hefty risk of a potential hit that would cost the team $16.2 million in the case of injury. The Redskinsofficially announced their cuts Saturday afternoon, and Griffin was not among the players released.
Barring an unforeseen situation this afternoon, Griffin is expected to be listed second on the depth chart behind Kirk Cousins and ahead of Colt McCoy. NFL Media's Albert Breer added that McCoy will be the backup for the season opener due to questions regarding RGIII's health, per a team source. No promises were made to McCoy beyond that, though. The decision to keep Griffin currently has the approval of general manager Scot McCloughan, coach Jay Gruden and owner Dan Snyder, a team source said.
If the Redskins decided to cut Griffin, they would have still absorbed a $6.7 million cap hit in 2015 in addition to paying him $3.25 million in guaranteed money. Because he has no offset language in his contract, Griffin still would have earned that money from the Redskins even if he'd signed with another team after clearing waivers.
From that standpoint, it made sense for the Redskins to keep him around. However, it is the language about the injury guarantee in his contract that made the team initially hesitant about whether it was wise to keep him. It is that situation that has left many believing the team would potentially part ways with Griffin as soon as he was cleared of his concussion.
If Griffin, for instance, suffers an injury even during practice that causes him to fail a physical at this season's end, the Redskins are on the hook for his $16.2 million salary in 2016, regardless of whether they cut him or keep him as a highly paid backup.
So from that standpoint, yes, the Redskins are taking a significant chance -- a chance, however, they are apparently willing to take.
Team sources say this was not a political decision but rather a football one. The Redskins ultimately believed, as of Saturday morning, that Griffin is the second-best quarterback on the roster and should be kept on the team as a result. No doubt, it's also possible the team could dangle Griffin as trade bait this season, but if a team did want to trade for him, they would be forced to commit to those same financial risks facing the Redskins regarding Griffin's 2016 salary.
While Gruden has declared this to be "Kirk's team," it wouldn't be the first time Griffin and Cousins played musical chairs as the starting quarterback should Griffin eventually see the field. It also wouldn't be the first time Gruden, who declared Griffin the starter for the entirety of 2015 this past offseason, went back on his previous words.
Last season, during six starts while Griffin recovered from a dislocated ankle, Cousins started hot but eventually struggled. He threw four interceptions in the final two games before Griffin returned, finishing his season with a passer rating of 86.4.
Cousins, however, has had an improved preseason. He has looked sharp enough for the Redskins to decide he is better suited to enter the regular season as the starting quarterback. In his three preseason appearances, he has a combined passer rating of 103.9.
And so now, Griffin is expected to remain on the roster with the Redskins to open the regular season -- a revelation that will leave the door open for the potential comeback that was largely dismissed as soon as Cousins was named the starter this week.