If there was a door left slightly ajar for a potential Robert Griffin III return to the nation’s capital, it was slammed shut by Kirk Cousins on Sunday.
The Washington Redskins’ current quarterback was spectacular in a 35-25 win over the Bills Sunday, completing 22-of-28 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns as Washington stayed atop the NFC East for at least one more week.
Cousins’ ascent doesn’t mean RG3 has no future in this league, however.
When it comes to the NFL, out of sight, out of mind might be a legitimate idiom to describe the mentality of the fan, but make no mistake, personnel people around the league haven’t forgotten about Griffin.
And many teams will be watching closely at the Redskins’ decision-making whenever the 2015 season ends for the organization.
It’s fair to say that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and general manager Scott McCloughan have already moved on from RG3 and with Washington overachieving with a chance to nail down the NFC East next Saturday in Philadelphia, there is little question that the duo will have enough power to implement their plans and move forward with Cousins at the game’s most important position.
And that wasn’t always the case if you consider Daniel Snyder’s history and his prior support for the former face of the franchise. The only way for that door to be left slightly ajar for an RG3 return was if the ‘Skins imploded down the stretch and the enigmatic owner decided to move on from Gruden, a scenario that’s even less likely after the Redskins handled their business by punishing the Bills.
No matter the finish from here, the Redskins have already accomplished more than expected, making Gruden’s return virtually assured, and McCloughan wasn’t going anywhere anyway because the early returns on his job performance have earned nothing but positive reviews.
That means the slim chance that Griffin would get one more chance inside the Beltway just turned into dust, especially when you consider his cap number moving forward.
With Cousins in line for a big raise and Griffin’s salary set at $16.15 million next year and guaranteed only for injury, it’s nearly impossible for Washington to ever put RG3 on the field again — this year or next — or it could be on the hook for that entire $16 million.
In a quarterback-starved league, though, a player who has the talent of Griffin is far from finished and more than one organization will be lining up to give him another chance, especially at a sharply reduced price tag.
The question is who?
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport got into the speculation game Sunday morning by keeping things in the NFC East with Philadelphia and Dallas as possible landing spots, as well as the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints.
Each of those teams are either in flux at the QB position (the Eagles and Texans) or looking for the heir apparent to long-time stars (the Cowboys and Saints).
Despite Chip Kelly’s recent vote of confidence for free-agent-to-be Sam Bradford, the oft-injured veteran looks ill-suited for Kelly’s preferred style, which is the spread offense with heavy zone-read concepts that Griffin excelled in at Baylor as well as his rookie season with the Redskins.
The Texans obviously don’t have their long-term answer at the position and even the short-term one is a question mark because of Brian Hoyer’s concussion history. Griffin, meanwhile, was an Army brat and born in Japan but his family settled in Copperas Cove, Texas and that’s where he’s most comfortable.
His love of the Lone Star State, as well as the fact that Tony Romo is 35 and it’s now fair to start calling him oft-injured as well, means Jerry Jones has to be on the lookout for both a competent backup as well as the future. Both boxes could be checked by the arrival of RG3.
The Saints are in a similar position as Dallas, absent the heightened injury concerns, because Brees is aging and the obvious heir is not on hand.
There is little question that Griffin needs a fresh start in a new environment and he’s going to get it. It’s now up to RG3 to own his part of the fractured relationship in Washington, learn from it, and grow from here.
If Griffin does that, out of sight will change rather quickly. If he doesn’t, out of mind will be permanent.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
Also check @JFMcMullen on Twitter for John’s upcoming appearances on YAHOO! Sports Radio, FOX Sports Radio, YAHOO! Sports Radio Indiana, Omaha’s The Zone, Mobile’s WNSP, Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, The Score 1260 in Syracuse, Sirius’ Mad Dog Sports Radio, ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, TSN 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN 690 in Montreal and WNSR in Nashville.