Browns sign Robert Griffin III to battle for starting QB job: 8 things to know

The Browns finally made a splashy move at quarterback, signing Robert Griffin III.

Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the news, confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports it’s a two-year contract for Griffin. It comes at an interesting time, with Browns coach Hue Jackson busy watching Carson Wentz perform at the North Dakota State pro day. Cleveland holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and most people believe they'll take a quarterback there.

“We are excited about Robert joining the Cleveland Browns,” Jackson said. “He brings starting experience to our team and organization. He's a young, athletic, talented passer and he's really just starting out in this league. Just like every player on our team, Robert will have to earn every opportunity he gets. He will compete with the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster and he helps improve our QB room, which was one of my goals upon taking the job. It's a special room and we want to put special people and players in that room. We are looking forward to working with Robert, as well as the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster.

"We have a lot of work to do to prepare to be the best QB room in the NFL and we look forward to the challenge that lies ahead."

Bringing in Griffin could throw a wrench in those plans, although maybe this is what Cleveland wanted to do all along. Sign a veteran, hope to create a bridge and stockpile picks.

Signing Griffin and going quarterback at No. 2 would not be devoid of irony, nor would it be the easiest pair of players to juggle. If Griffin starts and struggles, there would be calls for the rookie (whoever it is, whether Carson Wentz or Jared Goff from California or Paxton Lynch from Memphis). If a rookie starts and struggles, Browns fans will want to see Griffin.

“I'm excited about the opportunity to join the Dawg Pound and help build something here in Cleveland,” Griffin said. “Coach Hue and Pep (Hamilton), I had a great meeting with them. I really believe in what they preach and how they can help not only me as a player but this team win games and that's what we're all about.

“I'm just excited to come in and compete. Nothing's ever been given to me in my life, so I just want to go out and compete with the guys and grow with this team. I feel like that's all I'm really focused on. I cherish the opportunity to get another chance to play this beautiful game.”

Here are 8 things to know about the signing:

1. Where’s his head: No one knows where Griffin is at physically or mentally either. With the Redskins concerned about an injury and having to pay his fifth-year option, they played Kirk Cousins the entire season, with Griffin seeing exactly zero snaps on the year. 

The Redskins gave up a bevy of picks in 2012 in order to move up and acquire Griffin at No. 2 overall (behind the Colts taking Andrew Luck). He was the future of the franchise and it all fell apart in tragic fashion, with Griffin suffering an ACL injury during the 2012 postseason, getting benched multiple times over the rest of his Washington tenure and eventually sitting behind Cousins as Cousins flourished into Jay Gruden’s franchise quarterback.

There’s really no telling how he’s doing physically (one would assume he’s healthy) or mentally, having not taken reps in over a year. 

2. What now with No. 2: As noted above, the Browns are in an interesting position here. They’ve got the No. 2 overall pick and suddenly have a lot more leverage than they had before.

Griffin isn’t a franchise savior here. He could end up never playing for Cleveland -- they’re basically the only team that showed interest in him this offseason.

But it gives them a fallback plan if they’re not in love with Wentz, Goff or Lynch. Drafting a quarterback just because you’re supposed to draft a quarterback is a pretty dumb use of capital. The Browns brought in Paul DePodesta to change the culture and it’s logical they could decide they would prefer to stock up draft picks and/or take the best player on their board. There is elite talent at the top of this draft; grabbing Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

At the very least, Griffin and Josh McCown give them some options if they don’t feel comfortable investing in a quarterback at No. 2. 

3. Prior interest: The Browns had a long flirtation with Griffin. Then-GM Tom Heckhert confirmed Cleveland had a massive offer on the table to move up to No. 2 during the 2012 NFL Draft and grab Griffin. 

This is kind of like REALLY liking a brand-new car, having someone outbid you for it and then buying it from them for pennies on the dollar a couple years later. Except for the fact that the hypothetical transaction doesn't really work like that.

Also, probably don't ever buy Dan Snyder's used automobiles. They might have been wrecked. 

4. Hue digs him: The biggest goal of bringing in Jackson as the Browns coach was to figure out the quarterback situation. The Browns have been a trainwreck at the position for over a decade and counting now. 

Jackson liked Colin Kaepernick when he came out (hence the rumors of a trade from the 49ers to the Browns) but he also said some positive things about Griffin after the quarterback's recent visit in Cleveland.

"I think he's in a great place right now, I think he wants to play, I think he understands he's talented enough to play but I think he knows there's some things he needs to fix," Jackson said at the owners' meetings. "I think he's willing to do that, I think he knows there are some things he could've done better. And I think he wants to take whatever challenge lies ahead, however it unfolds for him."

If Jackson can get anything close to 2012's production out of Griffin -- a historical, award-winning campaign -- the Browns could be a surprising team.

5. Reunited and it feels so good: Maybe, just maybe, former Baylor stars Josh Gordon and Griffin could start making sweet deep-ball music again.

They split up because of Gordon's issues in college and Griffin heading to the Redskins (Gordon was taken in the supplemental draft by the Browns).

Gordon isn't guaranteed to be reinstated -- Roger Goodell said Wednesday there would be an update soon on his status -- but if he comes back, look out world.

In theory, anyway.

6. Not a ton of talent around him: Griffin suffered badly in Washington at times because he didn't have the most talent around him. You could argue he didn't get the world's greatest protection from his offensive line.

Well, things won't get much better in Cleveland.

The Browns let Mitchell Schwartz (Chiefs) and Alex Mack (Falcons) walk in free agency. They are burning it all to the ground and starting from scratch. If Griffin is the starter he's going to deal with a talent void he's likely never seen before. 

This is doubly true if Gordon isn't reinstated: the Browns top-returning receivers right now are Gary Barndige, Duke Johnson (a running back!) and Brian Hartline. Yikes.

7. Latest name on a long list: Griffin’s addition to the notable Browns jersey makes him the 25th quarterback Cleveland's added since moving back in 1999.

It is a long and sad list of players and it's probably not finished just quite yet.

8. Revenge factor: Good news for Bob Griffin the third. He can exact revenge against his old team. The 2016 NFL schedule hasn't been released yet, but the Redskins and Browns are set to play in 2016, making for a spicy game should Griffin be the starter. The Browns actually play the entire NFC East, so this is a fun little running subplot we all get to deal with next season.

The Browns signed Griffin. (USATSI)

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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