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For one glorious rookie season, Robert Griffin III was worth all of it. The draft picks that Washington had traded to select its franchise quarterback looked like chump change compared to the accurate arm, magical legs and brilliant smile that Griffin brought to D.C.
Then came the knee injuries, and the sophomore slump, and more injuries, and the benchings. Griffin went from Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowler to third on a depth chart that also included Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins. He didn't even make it the entirety of his rookie contract before being released and sent to drift as a journeyman.
This is a look back at all of it — the early highs and the concluding lows to RG3's time in Washington, the type of drastic career shift that leaves everyone wondering some variation of a "What if?" question. We'll never know the answer to any of those hypotheticals, though. All we know is what happened.
MORE: What happened to Robert Griffin III after Washington?
2012 NFL Draft
Washington wanted Griffin, but the St. Louis Rams held the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. It'd take a trade to ensure Griffin played in the nation's capital.
The Rams secured a steep payment: 2012's No. 6 overall pick and a second-rounder, along with first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. That allowed Washington to move up four picks and take RG3.
There was no question who'd go off the board with the first pick that year: Stanford's Andrew Luck was viewed as a generational quarterback prospect. But Griffin, out of Baylor, was also viewed as a top prospect and a good pick at No. 2 overall. Bleacher Report gave Washington an A+ grade for its selection and wrote this:
A pick that we knew was happening the minute the Redskins traded up to the No. 2 overall pick. Griffin steps in as the leader, face and unquestioned starting quarterback on the Washington depth chart.
Griffin won't have great talent around him in year one, but he does have the athleticism to be an elite playmaker in the same way that Cam Newton was in his rookie season.
What raised a few eyebrows later in that 2012 draft was who Washington selected in the fourth round. Kirk Cousins, out of Michigan State, joined Griffin in Washington's 2012 rookie class, a move that wouldn't show its true long-term implications until later.
MORE: Russell Wilson & the QBs drafted before Seahawks star in 2012
Rookie of the Year
Griffin was a star immediately. In his NFL debut against the Saints, Griffin completed 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 10 times for 42 yards in a 40-32 win. That outing earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The good times kept on coming: 82 rushing yards with two scores on the ground in Week 2, 138 rushing yards with two more scores in Week 6, 304 passing yards with four touchdowns to beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving four days after throwing four TDs against the Eagles. Luck may have been the NFL's future face, but RG3 was the league's exciting new present.
Adding to the rookie success of Griffin was an ability to keep his turnovers in check, throwing just five interceptions and losing two fumbles the entire season. He finished with 3,200 passing yards and 20 touchdowns through the air while adding 815 rushing yards and seven TDs on the ground. At the time, Griffin became the NFL's rookie record-holder for season quarterback rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio (Dak Prescott broke both).
All told, Griffin earned 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors one year after Cam Newton had done the same. It looked like Washington's trade up was worth it.
Late in Griffin's rookie season, the cracks started to appear. In Week 14, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata hit Griffin directly in his right knee, twisting it in the process. The next day, Washington announced Griffin had a Grade 1 LCL sprain. But Griffin had played a number of snaps late in that game after the injury, visibly hopping on one leg to get up the field.
In Washington's wild-card loss to the Seahawks, Griffin hurt his right knee again. This time, the ACL was involved, and in the offseason, he underwent surgery on to repair a torn LCL, ACL and meniscus in his right knee.
Controversy had arisen before that game against Seattle, as USA Today reported Griffin hadn't gotten clearance from Dr. James Andrews to return to the Week 14 game. That contradicted a statement from Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and made Griffin's ensuing re-injury against the Seahawks seem that much worse.
Griffin didn't play in the preseason before his second year with some worries about his status for the season opener, but he made it back to the field for Week 1. Things weren't quite the same, though. Griffin ran a bit less per c