The Robert Griffin III saga has taken more than enough twists and turns over the past three years, and down the stretch of 2014 we may be seeing it come to a head.
Of course, it began when the former No. 2 overall pick looked to be one of the best quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class after winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. But an injury that postseason wound up altering his career.
Since then, RGIII has battled injuries and being benched, and is now playing for his second coach in his three-year career, and it's not the coach who drafted him out of Baylor. This coach, Jay Gruden, is brutally blunt and doesn't shy away from calling out his players.
This season, three different quarterbacks have started under center for Washington, but in Week 16 Gruden is reverting back to Griffin, who threw for 236 yards and a touchdown in relief of Colt McCoy in the team's loss to the Giants last weekend.
It's back to RGIII, but is this an audition for 2015? It doesn't seem as if Griffin and Gruden can co-exist, and the organization has already backed the coach. If that's the case, Griffin could be elsewhere next season trying to resurrect his career. Here are six potential landing spots:
1. Buffalo Bills
The Kyle Orton experiment started off well, but the journeyman has since seen his production drop off to a level you might have expected from a quarterback that retired in the offseason. The Bills remain in AFC Wild Card contention because of their defense, which likely allows Doug Marrone to keep his job.
The team can revert back to former first-round pick E.J. Manuel. After all, he only has 14 starts under his belt. But perhaps like the situation in Washington, the Bills haven't seen enough to be convinced he's the solution going forward.
Griffin could have a fresh start in Northwestern New York State with a budding starter in Sammy Watkins at his disposal. Marrone was looking for an athletic, big-armed quarterback when he drafted Manuel; perhaps Griffin can better fit the bill.
2. New York Jets
Let's not be coy: the Jets have had terrible success finding quarterbacks in the draft. Case and point: Mark Sanchez, a former No. 5 overall pick in 2009, is now with Philadelphia, while Geno Smith hasn't showed much in almost two full seasons to prove he's the answer to their team's woes.
The Jets have also signed Michael Vick and traded for Tim Tebow, but the former is a shell of his former self and the latter, well, we knew that publicity stunt would never work out as planned. The team could completely overhaul the coaching staff and front office this offseason, which would leave a new coach and general manager to decide if RGIII is a fit in New York. Instead of dissecting college film, Griffin at least has professional experience to analyze.
3. San Francisco 49ers
If Jim Harbaugh does in fact get the boot this offseason, it seems likely that his quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, will follow suit. Kaepernick signed a long-term extension with the 49ers this offseason, but the terms of the deal indicate the deal is only guaranteed for injury. That means the team has the option of moving on from Kaepernick every year on April 1.
Kaepernick has failed to develop into the dynamic dual-threat quarterback many had expected him to, despite him flashing signs of tremendous promise and athleticism early on. Once his coach gets the axe, there will definitely be talk about what to do going forward with Kaep and whether he can be a franchise quarterback down the road.
Like Kaepernick, Griffin is in that dual-threat mold, but also has a better pocket presence. The 49ers could look a lot different as soon as 2015, with a new coach and a wealth of familiar names heading toward free agency. Among them: Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati. If the team intends to reshape the roster, the plans could include RGIII.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Right now the Buccaneers have Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, so in other words, have no answer for their quarterback situation. Neither the veteran nor the second-year pro have shown much this season. And Tampa Bay, which as of today is poised to pick No. 1 overall, could be in the hunt for a quarterback, perhaps Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
But if the Bucs elect not to draft a quarterback with the first overall selection, perhaps they can trade out of the spot, collect picks and make a deal to nab Griffin. There's a lot of talent already on the offensive side of the ball in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, but the team lacks a capable quarterback and a sturdy offensive line.
The Buccaneers can turn that No. 1 pick into Griffin and new offensive linemen, if that's an avenue they choose to go down. That immediately bolsters their chances of returning to contention quicker, especially in the weak NFC South.
5. Miami Dolphins
There's a lot to be figured out down in South Florida this offseason, and a lot obviously depends on whether the Dolphins can sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card. If such is not the case, Joe Philbin may have seen his last days with the team.
Philbin came to Miami and drafted Ryan Tannehill in the first round, but the former Texas A&M standout has failed to progress as the organization had hoped. Tannehill has had some career-best performances in 2014, but his ceiling is surely not as high as Philbin probably initially anticipated, and the truth is he's likely just a game manager.
If Miami gets a makeover this offseason, perhaps Griffin will be the new quarterback that a new regime opts to build around. There are weapons like Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller, plus a pretty young, stout offensive to work with.
6. Tennessee Titans
In a situation very similar to that of Tampa Bay, Tennessee is very likely to be picking somewhere in the top three spots come draft day. Ken Whisenhunt is a fan of traditional drop-back pocket passers, much like he had with Kurt Warner in Arizona and (tried to develop in) Matt Leinart. Jake Locker is likely gone, while we're unsure of what the team makes of rookie Zach Mettenberger.
But if that's the mold Whisenhunt drafts his quarterbacks in, it doesn't appear as if Mariota is the right fit. Griffin isn't exactly that style of quarterback either, but has the capabilities of being effective in that kind of system.
Like the Bucs, the Titans can use the pick on a position other than quarterback, or they can take advantage of that spot to entice another quarterback-needy team to make a deal and turn a high draft pick into numerous selections. With that, they can also take a flier on Griffin, who would be another component of the rebuilding offense down there in Nashville.
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
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