From their Texas roots to their Heisman Trophy wins to their 1st round selections, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel are linked in numerous ways. Now we officially have another: The Cleveland Browns.
Following four mercurial seasons with the Washington Redskins, Griffin will sign with the Browns Thursday, as first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and later confirmed by the Browns organization.
Financial terms of the deal have not yet been revealed.
Griffin will likely battle with 37-year-old Josh McCown for the starting job in Cleveland, although the position figures to be a temporary one. The Browns are widely expected to select a quarterback-- either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz -- with the second pick in the late April draft one month after parting ways with the partying Manziel.
The Redskins paid a hefty price to take Griffin in that exact spot four years ago, trading away three first-round draft picks and a second rounder to move up and select Griffin second overall in 2012. But the price tag appeared worth it as Griffin exploded onto the scene, leading the Redskins on a magical six-game winning streak to clinch the division and securing NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in the process.
A knee injury in the wildcard game against the Seahawks ended the 2012 season for both Griffin and the Redskins. It also marked the beginning of Griffin’s sharp descent from favor in Washington, which culminated as he watched from the sidelines while Kirk Cousins staked his territory as the quarterback of the future last season.
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Doubts linger as to whether Griffin can ever return to his rookie form, both physically and mentally, but Browns coach Hugh Jackson doesn’t appear to share them. According to Cleveland.com, Jackson believes Griffin has embraced the humility needed in order for him to make a comeback.
"I mean, he takes responsibility,” Jackson said Tuesday. “He knows there's things he could have done better. And that's where he is. To me that showed the humbleness. Because that's what it's all about. In this league you don't grow if you don't admit that you've made some mistakes.”
Jackson was also confident that Griffin hasn’t lost his abilities on the field. He believes the Browns’ organization has the tools to unlock the awesome potential that Griffin flashed during his rookie season.
"But again it's the environment that I think the organization along with myself creates,'' Jackson said. "We're talking about the young guys too. They're going to be well-schooled and well led in that manner as well. I believe in our process to get guys to do what we need them to do. As long as a guy is willing to put in the work and he understands that there is a lot to do.”
"When you talk about Robert, you're talking about a young man who was [NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year] at one time,” he added. “There's been success there.”
Griffin already said his goodbyes to the organization and its fans, and the general consensus, among all parties, was that Griffin deserved a chance elsewhere. It appears that Griffin, at least for now, has that chance in Cleveland. We'll see if turns his newest pressure into diamonds or if he becomes another mistake on the lake.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanRothDC.
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