In this Sept. 24, 2015 photo, Washington Robert Griffin III leaves MetLife Stadium after an NFL game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Browns have signed free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III, who hasn't been the same since his dazzling rookie season in Washington.

In this Sept. 24, 2015 photo, Washington Robert Griffin III leaves MetLife Stadium after an NFL game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Browns have signed free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III, who hasn't been the same since his dazzling rookie season in Washington.

Act II for RG3: Griffin’s shot to reboot career with Browns

  • Friday, March 25, 2016 1:04am
  • Sports

CLEVELAND — Back before he rocketed into the NFL as a freakish touchdown-maker, before the knee injury and his downfall in Washington, Robert Griffin III was convinced he’d play for the Browns.

During pre-draft workouts in Arizona, Griffin and his agent were set for Cleveland to be his home.

“We were ready then,” Griffin said, “and we are more than ready now.”

Four long, trying years later, Griffin has a chance to revive a career that once seemed unstoppable.

No longer viewed as one of football’s brightest and flashiest players but rather a reclamation project, Griffin signed a two-year, $15 million contract Thursday with the Browns, a team on a perpetual mission to find a franchise quarterback.

RG3 is beginning his second act.

Griffin hasn’t been the same since his dazzling rookie season in Washington in 2012, when the former Heisman Trophy winner — possessed with a rocket arm, a tailback’s speed and endless swagger — took the league by storm. However, his next three seasons were curtailed by injury and clouded by controversy and the 26-year-old found himself without a team when Washington released him March 7.

The Browns, who tried unsuccessfully to trade so they could draft him in 2012, are giving him another shot.

“I’m just excited to come in and compete,” Griffin said. “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.”

He’s been given no promises by the Browns, who have the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and are expected to take a quarterback — presumably California’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. As the team was completing its deal with Griffin, new coach Hue Jackson attended Wentz’s pro day workout in North Dakota along with offensive assistant Pep Hamilton.

Griffin, who didn’t play a single snap and was demoted to third-string last season, isn’t opposed to the Browns drafting another quarterback.

“I’ll take the guy under my wing,” he said during a conference call. “I’m real excited about that. I’m considered a vet now after four years in the league, and I’ve been through a lot more than a lot of guys go through their entire career. … I can help a young guy. But that’s not my focus. I don’t pick players.”

Jackson has spent much of his coaching career grooming quarterbacks. He met with Griffin last week and was impressed by his candor and humility.

“He brings starting experience to our team and organization,” Jackson said. “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.”

If he can win the starting job, Griffin could be reunited with former college teammate Josh Gordon, who has applied for reinstatement with the league following a one-year drug suspension. The thought of playing with Gordon excites Griffin.

“Josh is family,” Griffin said. “I love the guy. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him and the league or with the team, but he always knows he has a brother in me, so if the opportunity comes that he can get reinstated and play for the Browns then I won’t be upset with that. He is family and at Baylor we believe that no matter what happens we’ve always got your back.”

Cleveland has started 24 quarterbacks since 1999, but few of them have the resume — or talent — to match Griffin.

The Browns recently released troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel, once considered the team’s savior. They also have quarterbacks Josh McCown and Austin Davis under contract. But, as is always the case with that position in Cleveland, nothing stands still.

After leading the Redskins to the NFC East title as a rookie, Griffin, who had become one of America’s most celebrated athletes, began a striking fall from grace. He seriously injured to his right knee in the playoffs and needed reconstructive surgery. His next two seasons were filled with squabbles with coaches and little else.

Griffin spent last season watching from the sideline, where he learned more about life than anything he could find in a playbook. He set out to restore his name — and image — with the hope there would be a next chance.

It’s now in his hands.

“What I learned most was just the love that’s inside of me for this game of football,” he said. “What happened down there (in Washington) would break a lot of people. This is my calling. I’m real excited to have another opportunity to grow with a coach who believes in me. That’s big. Now I’ve just got to go out and prove it.”

More in Sports

A total of 145 boys from 10 Southeast Alaska high schools dash out from the starting line at the Capital City Invite at A Káx Yaa Andagan Yé (Sandy Beach) on Saturday morning. The 5K race for boys’ and girls’ teams was the region’s largest cross-country race of the season, and final regular season competition before the regional championship in Sitka this weekend. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Many merry after massive muddy meet

Juneau’s cross-country runners and coaches in sunny spirits about chances going into championships

TMHS’ Ashlyn Gates and JDHS’ Mila Hargrave both reach for the ball during the second set of a cross-town volleyball match held at JDHS on Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
TMHS wins two cross-town matches

TMHS wins two cross-town matches

A Lucas White (21) block buys Jarrell Williams (1) more room to work during a 49-32 win against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau cooks up a conference title

Huskies are back-to-back Cook Inlet Conference champs after lopsided win.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
From left to right, Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau; SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium project manager Sierra Gadaire; High Cadence Triathlon team coach Jamie Bursell; and City and Borough of Juneau Finance Director Jeff Rogers met at Juneau Moose Family Center on Thursday afternoon to share a recap of the Ironman Alaska to a full crowd of members of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce who joined in at the luncheon.
2023 vision: Officials look at the future of Ironman Alaska

They reviewed what went well and what could change for next time.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Two-time national champion and Olympic bronze medalist Gracie Gold talks with the Juneau Empire ahead of her upcoming free speech at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.
Olympian takes time to talk mental health

Bronze medalist, 2-time champ to speak Saturday.

Jarrell Williams (1) and Thomas Baxter (84) celebrate a big play on defense early in Juneau's win over the visiting West Valley Rams. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Huskies get the Rams’ goat under Friday night lights

Juneau remains undefeated on the season.

FILE - Lance Mackey sits with his lead dogs Larry, right, and Maple after crossing the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 18, 2009, in Nome, Alaska, to win his third Iditarod in a row. Mackey, a four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner and one of mushing’s most colorful and accomplished champions who also suffered from health and drug issues, died Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, his father and kennel announced on Facebook. He was 52. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Cancer claims 4-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey

Officials with the world’s most famous sled dog race said Iditarod Nation was in mourning.

The Huskies on Friday improved their record to 4-0 with all wins coming within the Cook Inlet Conference. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Huskies run wild in win over Colony

337 yards for Jamal Johnson.