There was a time not so long ago when Robert Griffin III was considered the brightest young star in football. Now his departure from the Washington Redskins feels like little more than paperwork.
The Redskins announced RGIII's release Monday afternoon. The only surprise regarding the news was that it took so long for the Redskins to finalize, but they wanted to make sure that starter Kirk Cousins was under contract for 2016 before making anything official. Cousins signed his franchise tag tender last week.
Griffin didn't play a single snap last season for the Redskins. In theory, this was to ensure their quarterback's health in an effort to maintain his trade value. In reality, Griffin played like the third-best quarterback on the team the last two seasons behind Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. He was due $16.1 million in 2016 as part of the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. RGIII goes down as a new CBA footnote, the first player to be released after having his fifth-year option picked up.
The start of Griffin's career was anything but a footnote. A standout rookie campaign in 2012 made RGIII a superstar after being drafted No. 2 overall, culminating in a Redskins playoff berth and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors over Andrew Luck. His career was never the same, however, after tearing his ACL and MCL in the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Griffin wound up getting benched under two coaches: Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden. Griffin was named the team's starter last offseason by Gruden, but never got his job back after suffering a preseason loss to the Lions last August 20. Griffin was one of the least effective starters in the league in 2014, with four touchdowns and six picks in seven starts. He did not appear comfortable in Gruden's offense and didn't use his mobility as a weapon nearly as much as he did as a rookie.
Griffin will have a market as a free agent, but it should only be as a backup for now. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week the Chiefs, Broncos and Cowboys each would be interested in the 26-year-old quarterback once he hits the open market. Playing behind an established starter where Griffin's big name is less of a story could be his best route.
Then again, we know that Griffin will be a big story wherever he goes. Once one of the faces of the league, Griffin now will be battling just to prove he belongs in it.