WASHINGTON (AP) — The Redskins have released Robert Griffin III, four years after trading a bevy of draft picks to take the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with the No. 2 overall choice.
The NFC East champions announced the move Monday. They had made clear it was coming.
The Redskins had until Wednesday to part ways with Griffin and prevent his 2016 contract worth about $16 million from becoming guaranteed.
The release closes the book on Griffin’s tumultuous tenure in Washington, which included 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors but also injuries and clashes with coaches Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden.
Working to free up space under the salary cap, the Redskins also released safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson, as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher on Monday.
Taking that trio and Griffin off the books removes nearly $30 million from Washington’s spending toward the cap and brings the team below the ceiling.
In addition, fullback Darrel Young and nose tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton indicated on Twitter that they would not be brought back by Washington.
The day’s most noteworthy — if not unexpected — move by Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan involved Griffin, who wrote on Instagram: “After 4 years, my days as a part of this team have come to an end.”
He also tweeted: “It was a blessing guys. I just want to say thank you.”
Griffin’s departure is the culmination of a sudden rise and stunning fall for the QB, who didn’t play last season for the NFC East champions as Kirk Cousins took over as the starter.
RG3 arrived via a draft pick that came from the Rams at the high price of three first-round selections plus a second-rounder — and he immediately became a star and national sensation.
Working with a zone-read offense tailored to his sprinter’s speed and other skills, Griffin led the Redskins to a division title. But in a playoff game against Seattle, Griffin at first was hobbled by a clearly hurt right knee, then wound up face-down on the turf with torn ligaments.
He was never the same player for Washington.
Griffin returned quickly from reconstructive knee surgery, but Year 2 did not go well, and he was benched by then-coach Shanahan for the final three games. In 2014, with Shanahan gone and Gruden in charge, Griffin dislocated his left ankle in Week 2 and missed about half the season.
In February 2015, Gruden declared Griffin would be the team’s starting quarterback. But by the end of the preseason, which included a bizarre back-and-forth over whether Griffin was ready to return from a concussion, Gruden announced that Cousins, a fourth-round pick the same year Griffin entered the league, would move from backup to the No. 1 QB spot.
Tumbling all the way to third-string duty, behind Cousins and Colt McCoy, Griffin never took a single snap all season.