The Redskins have said they will part ways with Griffin, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year -- it’s just a matter of when and how. The most likely ending is a release; for a team to trade for Griffin, it’d have to get him to redo his option of $16.155 million and convince him it’s worth it to avoid the open market. That remains a long-shot scenario.
But Griffin’s fate did come up at the NFL scouting combine, as a number of teams are looking for quarterback help, whether in free agency or the draft.
Teams did not want to discuss whether they’d be interested in Griffin because he’s still under contract. But a few teams appear to be viable options -- and Griffin’s name will be attached to several more.
There are teams seeking starters -- the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans, for example. And teams that want or need backups -- Dallas, possibly Kansas City or San Francisco.
“To say we’re interested or not, there’s no competitive advantage of giving that answer, but everyone who is available, we’ll kick the tires on,” said San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke.
The Niners may or may not have a strong need. Baalke and coach Chip Kelly said at the combine that quarterback Colin Kaepernick would return, but reports surfaced later Thursday that the player wanted to be traded. His contract might prevent such a move. San Francisco also has Blaine Gabbert under contract.
Several sources said last month, before the 49ers hired Kelly, that a good spot for Griffin would be anywhere Kelly coaches.
“If you look at the quarterbacks coach he has had, he hasn’t had a bunch of guys [who] can run,” Baalke said. “He’s been able to put together some pretty good offenses with guys not able to run. You get an extra advantage of having a quarterback [who] can run. If you talk to any coordinator, they take that as a positive, but it’s not a necessity.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Case Keenum will return as their starter with Nick Foles also still around. Neither option likely will excite the team's new fan base in Los Angeles. Fisher said only that the Rams will add another quarterback or two, but whether that comes from free agency or the draft remains uncertain.
“That’s a position that we look to upgrade,” he said.
Houston owner Bob McNair has made it clear that the Texans must upgrade at quarterback, although that merely echoes what anyone else would say after checking his roster. Griffin is a Texas native, of course, but Houston coach Bill O’Brien has typically favored dropback passers. That does not suit Griffin’s strengths.
“We are in flux there,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “It’s a spot that we need to solidify.”
Two teams that could be in play for Griffin as a backup: Kansas City and Denver, both of which might or might not need to add a passer. Kansas City’s Chase Daniel will be a free agent, Denver is waiting on Peyton Manning’s retirement decision, and Brock Osweiler is a pending free agent as well.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has coached mobile quarterbacks, such as Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Michael Vick and Alex Smith.
“He just has a way of working with young men and young men believe in him,” Kansas City general manager John Dorsey said of Reid. “I’m not obligated to talk about [Griffin] because he’s still with another team, but what Andy does is he teaches the basic fundamentals. He’ll see the flaws within that person, try to break it down and build it back up. Then all of a sudden he sits there and grills on X's and O's of the game until it’s embedded in their head.”
Denver general manager John Elway who liked to run as a quarterback. Griffin is familiar with coach Gary Kubiak’s offense -- it’s the one he ran his first two seasons in Washington (minus the zone-read option aspect). But Kubiak played for Mike Shananan and had Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator in Houston. There’s little doubt he’d know exactly what he had in Griffin, both good and bad. For some, that makes this pairing unlikely.
“He’s a very talented young man,” Kubiak said of Griffin. “If guys keep battling and keep working, they find a way to make it work in this league, and I’m sure he will, too.”
Some coaches have said it would be tough having Griffin as their No. 2 quarterback if they had to change the offense too much to suit him. Kubiak wasn’t bothered by that prospect.
“That’s an easy question to answer,” Kubiak said. “This year we went through a lot of the same stuff. As a coach, you have to adjust. We went through three different offensive teams through the course of our season. We had a veteran player, who is one of the best this league has ever seen [Manning], and then we had a young player for seven weeks [Osweiler], so you have to adjust as coaches and do what’s best for your team to find a chance to be successful.”