Ravens’ Former QB Joining ESPN, Still Open to Playing

Ravens Robert Griffin III

Getty Former Baltimore Ravens' quarterback takes off with the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020.

Former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III has joined ESPN as an analyst covering both NCAA and NFL football, according to an ESPN press statement.

As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Griffin’s deal allows him to opt-out at any time for a return to the NFL.

“ESPN has been great through this whole process and understanding that I still want to play,” Griffin told Joe Reedy of the Associated Press.

The 31-year-old veteran sparked a bidding war between Fox and ESPN after he impressed both networks in his auditions, per the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.

Two Impactful Years in Baltimore

Griffin played for the Ravens in 2019 and 2020, backing up star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Though he didn’t see a lot of time on the field, his impact mentoring Jackson cannot be understated.

“I look at him like a little brother,” Griffin told Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com after he arrived in Baltimore in 2018. “My goal is, with all the information that I have in my years in the league, to help him have a successful future. And he’s been very receptive to that,” added the eight-year veteran.

The friendship between Griffin and Jackson came naturally, given their similar pedigrees and playstyles. Both players won the Heisman Trophy while they were in college, Griffin at Baylor University and Jackson at the University of Louisville. Griffin was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 after he was drafted by the Washington Football Team, throwing for 3,200 yards and rushing for 815 more. Seven years later, Jackson electrified the league in his first full season as a starter, gaining 3,127 yards through the air and adding 1,206 on the ground on his way to a unanimous MVP award.

Griffin had a lot to teach Jackson from his eight up-and-down years in the league. He struggled with injuries in Washington, leading him to be benched and eventually cut. He attempted to mount a comeback with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, but failed to make an impact. He remained unsigned in 2017 before joining the Ravens in 2018, shortly before Jackson was drafted.

Backup QB Competition Heats Up

Griffin served as the backup in Baltimore for three years, appearing in 14 games and starting two of them. Behind him was 2019 sixth-round draft pick Trace McSorley, who stepped in for Griffin after he injured his hamstring against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12 last season. Undrafted free agent Tyler Huntley assumed the backup role by the end of the season after a sprained knee ended McSorley’s season.

McSorley and Huntley are competing for the backup quarterback job in training camp, and with Jackson out this week due to COVID-19, they’ve had ample opportunity to showcase their arms.

The competition is neck-and-neck so far, with McSorley and Huntley both performing well in practice. McSorley’s accuracy in the red zone drew praise from The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec last week, and his solid play has continued through this week. Huntley impressed with his deep ball last week, according to Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich, but threw three interceptions in eight passes yesterday, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.

The two quarterbacks excelled as dual-threat quarterbacks in college – McSorley at Penn State and Huntley at the University of Utah – making them excellent backups to the dynamic Jackson. If the 2019 MVP gets injured or tests positive for COVID, both can effectively run Baltimore’s offense with minimal adjustments to the offensive scheme or playbook.

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