It’s not hard to see that the Ravens are fond of Robert Griffin III.
They didn’t just yank him out of the free agent pool and re-sign him to a new contract last week; they gave him a two-year deal worth $4.5 million, according to Spotrac, making him the first Ravens backup quarterback since Tyrod Taylor as a pup to know he’d have the job next year as well as this year.
Their rationale for such an endorsement is easily understood. Griffin, 29, was an effective mentor to Lamar Jackson throughout 2018 and surely will continue to counsel the Ravens’ new franchise quarterback, who turned 22 in January. More importantly, with his experience and talent, Griffin, a former No. 2 overall draft pick, is quite capable of stepping onto the field in an emergency, running the offense and giving the Ravens a chance to win.
You really can’t ask for more from a No. 2 quarterback, or for a better fit for the Ravens’ specific needs at the position. Griffin even has the same read-option roots as Jackson, so they’re fully interchangeable.
With the multi-year deal sealing Griffin as something of a fixture going forward, only one question lingers: Are the Ravens just going to ask him to continue to mentor Jackson and be prepared at all times to play, or might Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman find an occasional role for him in tandem with Jackson?
I can almost see your eyebrows going up in doubt. But it’s no longer a way-outside-the-box question. The Ravens rolled out a Lamar Package last season; until he became the starter after Flacco was injured in November, Jackson was on the field in a variety of alignments and roles, often with Flacco.
The package was shelved when Jackson took over, mostly because the X’s and O’s didn’t make as much sense. It also would have demeaned Flacco to reverse the roles and ask him to become essentially a trick-shot artist after he’d spent a decade as the team’s starter.
But the New Orleans Saints also featured a package with a second quarterback in 2018, putting Taysom Hill in tandem with Drew Brees, and it was quite successful at picking up yardage and keeping defenses off balance. The Ravens can attest to that, as Hill had his best game in the Saints’ 24-23 win in Baltimore.
After what the Saints and Ravens did with dual-quarterback packages last season, the idea definitely has entered the NFL mainstream. I’m wondering if Roman has doodled some possibilities along those lines as he builds the Ravens’ new offense from the ground up.
As Head Coach John Harbaugh said last year, it makes sense to try to get your best playmakers and/or athletes on the field. Griffin certainly brings an interesting track record in that regard, as well as an array of skills. He has passed for 9,004 yards and rushed for 1,670 in the NFL. He is among the Ravens’ fastest players.
If he were to line up in the backfield with Jackson, it would, if anything, set off alarms around the AFC North.
Now, I’m well aware of what naysayers will point out. Griffin is being paid quite a bit to be available if needed, and it’s an especially important role now, given how much Jackson runs. But putting Griffin on the field in a package increases the possibility of him getting injured, which lessens the odds of him being available if needed.
Nope, doesn’t make great sense that way.
It could be that scenario alone scuttles the thought of deploying Griffin in a surprising way.
But I’m not advocating for it so much as pointing out, however delicately, that the offense, as currently populated, could use an injection of playmaking talents, which Griffin does possess. At the very least, it’s something to consider.
Either way, I’m quite sure the Ravens feel good about signing a No. 2 quarterback who fit their needs so well.