Running at full speed, tongue out Michael Jordan style, Robert Griffin III gave us all one last memory of what once was and what could have been during what might be the final start of his rollercoaster career against the Steelers yesterday.
But while that 39-yard jaunt down memory lane was entertaining fodder for the masses, it was the only highlight for the former Heisman trophy winner and 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year in what was otherwise a disappointing display of the limited quarterback he is now.
With Lamar Jackson expected to return from his one-game COVID-protocol absence next week, and with RGIII's contract up with the Ravens after this year, the obvious question is: what's next? Griffin has steadfastly maintained he wants to be a starter in the NFL again, but failed to display the ability to start another NFL game against the Steelers. Granted, their defense is the best in the league and Griffin appeared to injure himself a few plays after breaking off the long run reminisced upon above, but regardless of the opponent, Griffin looked lost on passing plays yesterday and appears to be as much of a liability as an asset at this point in his career.
What's certain is no team is going to give RGIII a chance to start for them next year. Or the year after. Or the year after that. Not when he completed only seven of 12 passes for 33 yards, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and coughed up a fumble in the Ravens' end of the field too. Not when you have to build an offense that fits his skillset. It's just not realistic for a 30-year-old who has lost a step, which was his greatest attribute to begin with.
That leaves the only option to continue being a backup quarterback. But at this point, based on what he's shown since tearing his ACL at the end of his rookie season, what team wants an inaccurate, injury-prone, turnover-prone quarterback who needs to fit into a specific system to even have a chance of success?
Of the teams that feature quarterbacks who use their legs as much as their arm to threaten defenses, only the Ravens seem like a realistic fit given his knowledge of the offense and seemingly good relationship with Jackson and his teammates. But after Griffin's display against the Steelers, would the Ravens really want to keep him around? I don't see it.
At this point, it seems the RGIII era is over in the NFL, at least as a player and especially as a starter. If that's the case, it will include one of the more memorable rookie years and a lot of question marks about if his career could have been saved if Mike Shanahan didn't put him back out on the field with a gimpy knee in the 2012 playoffs. Regardless of your answer to that question, the end seems more likely than a new beginning and our last memory of the RGIII of old will be that run against the Steelers.