Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
With Robert Griffin III still searching for new team, here’s a look at five contenders that should consider signing the quarterback as a backup.
Around this time last offseason, the Cleveland Browns decided to take a chance on Robert Griffin III after the Washington Redskins decided to move on from the former first-round pick and move forward with Kirk Cousins as their starter instead. A fresh start with a new team seemed to be just what Griffin needed to turn his career around after everything seemed to go downhill following a breakout rookie season in 2012. Unfortunately, the Browns decided to move from the former Baylor star themselves this offseason.
It’s difficult to tell how last year would have played out for Griffin if he didn’t suffer a shoulder injury opening weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles that limited him to playing just five games in 2016. But it’s safe to say being stuck in Cleveland for another year wouldn’t have been the best fit for Griffin. His best option may now be finding a legitimate contender to join for the 2017 season while competing for a backup role.
At this point in his career, the only starting job Griffin is going to have any chance of earning is with teams that appear to be a few years away from being playoff contenders, which is why the New York Jets seemed like a good fit early on. If Griffin was truly serious about wanting to make an impact, there are plenty of teams that could use him as a backup quarterback in case anything were to happen to their current starters.
So exactly which teams should upgrade at the backup quarterback position to give Griffin a chance to prove himself? Well, starting things off with the Detroit Lions, here are five contenders that should consider bringing Griffin on as a backup quarterback for the 2017 season.
Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
5. Detroit Lions
Early in his career, there were some concerns for the Detroit Lions surrounding Matthew Stafford when it came to the quarterback trying to stay healthy after missing 19 games over his first two seasons in the league. Luckily for the Lions, this is no longer an issue since Stafford has managed to start every game for the team dating back to the 2011 season, although he’s certainly taken some nasty hits and played through numerous injuries over the last few years.
It’s amazing to see Stafford still be as effective as he’s been over the years despite all of the hits he’s taken under center. But Detroit still needs to come up with a better approach for the backup position in case anything were to happen to their beloved quarterback. Dan Orlovsky served as Stafford’s backup during the 2016 season, but the team decided to allow the veteran to hit the free agency market instead of signing him for another season.
At the moment, former sixth-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft Jake Rudock would be the best option for the Lions if anything were to happen to Stafford, and from an experience standpoint, this is the last situation the team wants to find themselves in. After reaching the postseason in 2016, chances are Detroit will be one of the top teams in the NFC once again heading into next season, and they may want to strongly consider signing a reliable backup like Robert Griffin III, just to be safe.
Nothing against Rudock, but the last thing the Lions can afford to see happen is Stafford suffer an injury, and the offense takes a major blow due to an inexperienced quarterback calling the shots under center. At least with Griffin, Detroit would feel more confident about his experience over the last five seasons to help keep the team contenders in the NFC if needed.
Jan 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks on against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Only time will tell when it comes to whether the Chicago Bears will regret spending all of that money on former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon, but at least the team is still in good shape with Jameis Winston leading the offense. Despite being the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, nobody expected Winston to be this impressive right away for the Buccaneers, as the future appears to be bright if the last two seasons are any indication of what to expect.
Not only has Winston started all 32 games for Tampa Bay over the last two years, but the team was in consideration for one of the six playoff seeds in the NFC before losing two key games to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints late in the season. With one of the league’s top wide receivers in Mike Evans along with the addition of a legitimate deep threat in DeSean Jackson, all signs point to Winston having a strong third season with the Buccaneers, assuming there are no setbacks.
With that being said, the fact that Winston is a quarterback who is capable of being just as dangerous on the ground with his legs as he is through the air always makes him a higher risk to injury. Coincidentally, Robert Griffin III has the same style of play, which unfortunately played a role in him suffering a torn ACL in the playoffs during his rookie season. But even if that was the case back then, it shouldn’t stop the Buccaneers from making a push for Griffin to give them a better option at backup to Winston.
Dec 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage (3) looks for an open receiver during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
3. Houston Texans
The NFL offseason has been filled with plenty of surprise moves, but the argument can be made that nothing compares to what the Houston Texans were able to pull off by trading Brock Osweiler and his ridiculous contract to the Cleveland Browns. The Texans entered the offseason in a tough position after Osweiler threw more interceptions than touchdowns during his first season as a starter with the team with no way of moving on without taking a major financial hit, until the Browns came along of course.
Now that Osweiler is officially out of the picture, Houston seems confident enough in Tom Savage running the offense, but they still find themselves in need of adding another quarterback, whether it comes through free agency or the upcoming draft. No matter how confident Bill O’Brien feels in Savage, the former Pittsburgh star is still a risk since he’s only recorded two starts since joining the league in 2014, and has yet to throw his first career NFL touchdown pass.
One of the main reasons why the Texans were so excited to bring Osweiler on board last offseason was due to the fact they seemed to be a reliable quarterback away from being one of the top contenders in the AFC. Just look at how well Houston’s defense performed in the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots last January, and it’s easy to see how close this team is to reaching the next level with an improvement at quarterback.
Let’s not forget what happened late last year when Savage was forced to leave a game due to injury, and Houston had no other option than to go back to Osweiler. Robert Griffin III has certainly seen his struggles over the years, but just the thought of him receiving an opportunity to run an offense loaded with talent like the Texans if the Savage experiment failed to work out is quite intriguing to think about.
Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a ball before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
2. Kansas City Chiefs
It’s amazing how fast the Kansas City Chiefs went from having backup options of players like Nick Foles or Aaron Murray to former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray if Alex Smith were to suffer some sort of injury. Lucky for the Chiefs, Smith has only missed three games with the team during the regular season since taking over the starting role in 2013, but Andy Reid is smart enough from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles to realize a move needs to be made before training camp for a reliable backup at quarterback.
Sure, Kansas City will most likely consider all of their options at quarterback in the upcoming draft, but it would also be wise to bring on an experienced veteran like Robert Griffin III just to be safe. Just like the other teams on this list, the Chiefs will enter the 2017 season as one of the favorites to be strong contenders once again after taking home the AFC West title last year. And the last thing they can afford to see happen if them miss out on a postseason run due to issues at quarterback if Smith was forced to miss any time under center.
Reid has been fortunate enough to work with some great quarterbacks throughout his coaching career, and for all Griffin knows, working with the Chiefs coach could be the answer he’s been looking for all this time. By possibly joining a team like Kansas City, Reid would have an opportunity to get the best out of Griffin with better options to work with, unlike the Cleveland Browns were able to accomplish last year.
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) gestures to an official against the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger seems to be quickly approaching retirement, and the quarterback hasn’t been shy when it comes to hinting that it could happen sooner than expected, although he should at least be good for the 2017 season. When taking a closer look at all of the nasty hits and injuries he’s suffered over the years, it’s easy to understand why Big Ben is at least considering the possibility of retirement since his body can only handle so much.
Just watching Roethlisberger play over the years shows why he’s considered one of the toughest quarterbacks in football since he still manages to be effective in games, despite sometimes taking hit after hit. Of course, all of these hits have Steelers fans holding their breath every time Roethlisberger is the victim of a brutal shot, especially since the last thing they want to see is Landry Jones taking over the offense if necessary.
For whatever reason, Pittsburgh seems to think Jones is a reliable backup, but at the end of the day, he seems to be the type of quarterback that would easily ruin a team’s chances of winning important games. If it comes down to the possibility of having to play with Jones or Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor star seems like the easy preference by a long shot, and it would be exciting to see what he would be capable of playing in a high-powered offense with weapons like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell to work with.