The Ravens will wrap up the preseason Thursday against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium, where Griffin will have one last chance to make the case for Baltimore to keep him on the 53-man roster. It’s been nine years since the Ravens have carried three quarterbacks on their season-opening roster.
“I’ve got nothing but love for the Washington Redskins and the organization,” Griffin said Tuesday. “They drafted me in 2012 and gave [me] an opportunity to play this game that I’ve dreamed of playing for most of my life. If I get that opportunity to go out there and play against them, it won’t be any more special or less special. But I’ll always know where I started.”
This will mark the first time Griffin faces the Redskins since being released by Washington in 2016.
Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick six years ago, made a splash with the Redskins and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Injuries and inconsistent play led to his release in March 2016. He signed with the Cleveland Browns later that month. A broken collarbone sidelined him for 11 games in 2016 before the Browns released him in March 2017.
He was out of football that year, throwing passes to receivers at UCF to keep sharp. The Ravens brought him in for a workout this offseason and signed him to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Only the $100,000 signing bonus is guaranteed.
“I felt like the adversity I’ve been through — from the highs to the lows, from being in the MVP talks to not playing an entire year because of a concussion, or whatever it may be — I learned who I am and I understand the type of player I can be and the type of player I will be,” Griffin said. “Tom Brady is playing until he’s 41. I’m 28. I got a lot of years left.”
The Ravens are set to keep Joe Flacco, their 11th-year starter, and Lamar Jackson, their rookie first-round pick, at quarterback. Whether the Ravens hold onto Griffin depends heavily on their confidence in Jackson.
If the Ravens feel Jackson can be the primary backup to Flacco, they will part ways with Griffin. If Baltimore believes Griffin gives the team a significantly better chance of winning — and ending a three-year playoff drought — should Flacco miss time because of injury, the team will keep him.
“Robert has done everything we’ve asked him to do and more,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s back on his feet and he’s healthy. He’s had great success and then Haloti [Ngata, Ravens defensive lineman] fell on him [in 2012]. That would hurt anyone’s career. I think he’s back from that finally. He’s had a heck of a summer.”
Griffin, who has started two preseason games, has completed 27 of 41 passes (65.9 recent) for 243 yards for the Ravens. He’s thrown two touchdowns and one interception for a 87.8 rating.
Griffin’s numbers don’t reflect his effectiveness. He’s had a 30-yard touchdown pass dropped by rookie Jordan Lasley, and his interception was the result of the ball bouncing off Breshad Perriman‘s hands.
What Griffin says he is most proud of is how he has shattered the perception of “RG III.”
“Some people associate some bad things with that. But I don’t. It’s who I am,” Griffin said. “When I came into this locker room, these guys didn’t expect me to be the first guy in and last guy out. They expected me to come in with that moniker of RG III. I think I’ve earned their respect by how I’ve come out and worked every single day whether I get all the reps or no reps, whether I get no preparation for the game and then I have to play most of the game. I think that’s part of why I’ve earned their respect, aside from being a cool guy.”
Griffin said being out of football taught him a lot about himself.
“If I had just folded, and said, ‘You know what, I’m done. I’ve made enough money. I’ve played enough plays and lived out my dream,’ that would tell me where my heart is,” Griffin said. “I didn’t do that. I watched the tape. I studied. I worked hard. I showed up here some day in March, had a tryout and rocked it.”