The Ravens have agreed in principle to a two-year contract with quarterback Robert Griffin III, pending the passing of his physical, General Manager Eric DeCosta announced Thursday.
Griffin rejuvenated his NFL career last season as Baltimore's No. 3 quarterback after sitting out the 2017 season. Though he only saw brief action at quarterback in two games, Griffin impressed teammates and coaches with his preparation and play, winning a roster spot during training camp and the preseason.
Griffin's mobility, experience and familiarity with the Ravens' offense makes him a suitable backup for Baltimore. If Jackson were to suffer an injury, Griffin can step in without forcing the Ravens to make major adjustments. The 29-year-old Griffin can also serve as a mentor for the 22-year-old Jackson. Griffin is a former Heisman Trophy winner like Jackson, who understands what it's like to enter the NFL as a quarterback with high expectations.
Before free agency began, DeCosta emphasized the importance of solidifying the backup quarterback position.
"I think that position is often overlooked, unless you need that guy, and then he becomes critical," DeCosta said. "We want to make sure we have a good backup in place regardless of Lamar Jackson being quarterback or somebody else being the quarterback. Having two quarterbacks is essential in the NFL.
"There's no faster way to ruin your season than to get your starting quarterback hurt and not having an effective backup quarterback. Your season is basically over at that point. We never want to be in that position again."
The Ravens traded long-time starting quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos this offseason, and Griffin's role could become more important in 2019. He saw action at quarterback in two games last season when Jackson went down with, or was evaluated for, an injury. Griffin had a full series in Atlanta when Jackson was checked for a concussion, and Griffin finished out the game in Kansas City after Jackson tweaked his ankle. For the season, Griffin completed two of four passes for 24 yards.
Griffin was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, starting his career with the Washington Redskins where he spent four seasons. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, leading the Redskins to a playoff berth. After being released by the Redskins in March of 2016, Griffin spent one season with the Cleveland Browns.