After leading Washington to the playoffs in 2012, injuries and dysfunction combined to derail Griffin’s early success. He regressed in 2013, missed most of 2014 and was active for just one game in 2015.
Washington finally released Griffin in March, and with the quarterback set to join the Browns, here is a timeline of his career so far.
NFL draft 2012 – Redskins trade up to draft Griffin
The Rams have possession of the No. 2 pick in the draft, but with quarterback and 2010 top pick Sam Bradford already on the team, St. Louis deals its pick to Washington ahead of the draft. In exchange, St. Louis receives Washington’s first-rounder (No. 6) and second-rounder (No. 39), along with its first-round choices in 2013 (No. 22) and 2014 (No. 2).
The Redskins choose Griffin, a dual-threat quarterback out of Baylor who won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 after throwing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns with 699 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing.
The Rams end up trading the No. 6 pick to Dallas for the Cowboys’ first and second round selections, and eventually find themselves with an eight-player haul as a result of the trade.
Sept. 9, 2012 – The debut
In his NFL debut, Griffin completes 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns to beat the Saints 40–32 in New Orleans. Fans start ‘RG3ing,’ mimicking the pose he made while falling to the ground after his first career touchdown pass.
Oct. 7, 2012 – The first injury scare
In a loss to the Falcons in Week 4, Griffin scrambles right to get back to the line of scrimmage and takes a hit to the head from linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. He is diagnosed with a mild concussion, and returns in Week 5.
Oct. 14, 2012 – Griffin’s 76–yard touchdown run seals win
Perhaps the defining play of Griffin’s rookie season comes in Week 6 against the Vikings. Griffin helps Washington rally from an early nine-point deficit and puts the team in front 31–12 in the fourth quarter. After Minnesota rallies, cutting the score to 31–26 late, Griffin scampers for a 76-yard touchdown to seal the win.
November 2012 – Griffin throws eight touchdowns in five days
Amid a seven-game winning streak that would help lead the Redskins to an NFC East division title, Griffin throws four touchdowns in a win over the Eagles on Nov. 18. He matches that performance just four days later on Thanksgiving in a win over the Cowboys. In those two games combined, Griffin throws eight touchdowns and just one interception, also recording 113 yards rushing.
Dec. 9, 2012 – Griffin’s knee problems begin
In a Week 14 win over the Ravens, Griffin sustains a mild LCL sprain after a hit from Haloti Ngata. He exits briefly, but later re-enters the game. After the game, head coach Mike Shanahan tells reporters that Dr. James Andrews, the team’s orthopedic consultant, examined Griffin and allowed him to return.
Dec. 26, 2012 – Griffin is named to the Pro Bowl
Jan. 6, 2013 – The Dr. James Andrews controversy
Despite Shanahan’s claim that Dr. James Andrews cleared Griffin to re-enter in Week 14, Andrews tells USA Today that he never examined him.
“[Griffin] didn’t even let us look at him,” Andrews said. “He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players and took off back to the field. It wasn’t our opinion. We didn’t even get to touch him or talk to him. Scared the hell out of me.”
Jan. 6, 2013 – Griffin re-injures his right knee
In a wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin twists his right knee, re-injuring it. Three days later, he has surgery to repair his ACL and LCL.
May 22, 2013 – Dad chimes in
Robert Griffin Jr. tells The Washington Post that his son should pass more and run less. “To me, you’re paying these [receivers] a lot of money to catch the football,” he says. “I’m his dad — I want him throwing that football, a lot. A lot.”
Sept. 9, 2013 – Griffin returns, but Redskins lose
After rehabbing from his knee injury in the off-season, Griffin returns as Washington’s starting quarterback in time for the 2013 season opener. He throws two interceptions and the Redskins lose to the Eagles on Monday Night Football, 33–27. Washington starts the season 0–3.
Oct. 20, 2013 – Out of his slump?
After a disappointing 1–4 start to the season that saw him throw just six touchdown passes and four interceptions, RGIII leads the Redskins to a 45–41 win over the Bears behind 298 yards passing and two touchdowns, with 84 yards rushing.
Oct. 27, 2013 – Griffin leaves with left knee injury
He completes 15 of 30 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions before being replaced by Kirk Cousins. Despite the injury, Griffin is able to return for the Redskins’ next game.
Nov. 25, 2013 – A new low
For the first time in his collegiate and professional career, Griffin fails to record an offensive touchdown.
Dec. 11, 2013 – Replaced by Kirk Cousins
Head coach Mike Shanahan announces that backup Kirk Cousins will start in place of Griffin for the remainder of the season to eliminate the risk of further injury.
Sept. 14, 2014 – Carted off with dislocated left ankle
In Week 2, Griffin leaves with an ankle injury after just three plays. He is replaced by Cousins, who throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout win over the Jaguars. The injury would keep Griffin out seven weeks.
Nov. 25, 2014 – Benched for Colt McCoy
After returning from his injury and playing ineffectively in three games, Redskins coach Jay Gruden benches Griffin in favor of Colt McCoy.
Dec. 28, 2014 – Ending the season on a high note
Griffin re-gains the starting job after McCoy injures his neck and reels off three encouraging performances. In the Redskins’ season-ending loss to the Cowboys, Griffin throws for 336 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. He also scores his first rushing touchdown since Dec. 30, 2012.
Feb. 18, 2015 – Mike Shanahan blasts Griffin
In an interview on ESPN Radio in Washington, D.C., former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says that Griffin requested that he change the offense after his rookie season.
“Yeah, he did ask for a meeting. He did talk about, number one, he wanted change,” Shanahan says. “He talked about protection shortening his career. What I tried to share with him is I thought he had probably as good a protection as most rookies do have in their first year because of what he was able to do with the running game. If you compare [Griffin’s protection] to Andrew Luck, it’s not even close. He actually [mentioned] what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and when he started talking about what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and that he wasn’t a rookie anymore and wanted to voice his opinion.”
Griffin would respond in July, calling it an “urban legend.”
Aug. 20, 2015 – Concussion and descent down depth chart
Griffin is hit in a preseason win over the Lions and sustains a concussion. He isn’t cleared to play until September, and falls to third on the depth chart behind Cousins and McCoy.
Jan. 11, 2016 – Locker clear-out
After he was inactive for all but one game during the season, Griffin clears out his locker at FedExField, leaving behind only a quote from Mother Teresa that had hung there all season.
March 7, 2016 – Released by Redskins
Griffin is informed by the Redskins that he has been released, ending his tenure in Washington.
March 24 – Signed by Cleveland Browns
The second act of Griffin’s career begins, as he agrees to join the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns.