General Manager Ozzie Newsome began Wednesday’s pre-draft press conference by announcing the Ravens have agreed to a one-year deal with quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Griffin is looking to resurrect his injury-plagued career after being out of the league all last season, and Baltimore will give him the chance.
When the Ravens brought in a couple free-agent wide receivers for workouts last week, Griffin came to the Under Armour Performance Center to throw to them and impressed coaches and scouts. The two sides came to a contract agreement Tuesday and Griffin is expected to officially sign next week.
“I’m very excited about it, the coaches are excited about it,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“Robert came in, had a really good workout, looked good throwing the ball, was in very good shape. Obviously, his personality, he’s a confident guy. He’s a very talented quarterback who has had a lot of success in this league early on.”
While the signing is attention-grabbing because Griffin is such a big name, it’s also not shocking.
The Ravens debated bringing Griffin to Baltimore just before last season when Joe Flacco’s back injury was causing concerns. Flacco got better and started Week 1 (and all 16 games), so the Ravens didn’t end up needing Griffin.
Now that last year’s backup Ryan Mallett is a free agent, Baltimore was in the market for a No. 2 quarterback and the Ravens circled back to Griffin, who was still itching to play again and remained in contact with Baltimore.
“You look at the quarterbacks out there and, where we’re at right now, I’m pretty excited about this player,” Harbaugh said. “I’m really feeling like we got a steal. I really feel that way.”
Griffin’s NFL career has been a rollercoaster so far to say the least. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2-overall pick has a lot to prove after a promising start was derailed by injuries, and he was ultimately benched, released and then out of the league.
With massive hype surrounding the strong-armed, super athletic and affable Griffin in the 2012 draft, the Washington Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up four spots to select him at No. 2 overall, one pick behind Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Griffin made the move look good at first. He started 15 games as a rookie, threw for 3,200 yards and tossed 20 touchdowns to five interceptions. He also ran 120 times for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Griffin led the Redskins back to the playoffs and was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.
A Week 14 game against the Ravens, however, changed Griffin’s trajectory. Griffin suffered a gnarly knee sprain from a hit by then-Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. That opened the door for Kirk Cousins, who beat Baltimore in overtime.
Griffin came back for the playoffs, but re-injured his knee. After Griffin played worse in 2013, Cousins took over the starting job for the last three games of the season. Griffin finished his second season with 3,203 passing yards, but tossed 16 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and his quarterback rating went from 102.4 to 82.2.
Griffin started seven games in 2014 before Washington handed the starting job over to Cousins on a full-time basis. Griffin didn’t throw a single pass in 2015 and was released by the Redskins after the season.
Griffin signed a two-year deal with the Browns in 2016, and began the year as the starter, but once again was taken down by an injury (shoulder). He came off injured reserve to start four more games, but threw for just 886 yards and tossed two touchdowns to three interceptions (72.5 quarterback rating).
After sitting out last year, Griffin still made it clear in media interviews that he had a desire to play again, and said he came close to signing with Baltimore last year.
“I felt like he really wanted to be here, really wanted to be a Raven, felt like this was the place for him,” Harbaugh said. “I believe our players are going to love the fact that he’s here; they like him as a person. It makes us a better football team.”