ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - A green Hulk doll poked its head out of a cardboard box stuffed with plastic action figures and other items Robert Griffin III collected from his stall in the Redskins Park locker room Monday.
He peeled away four bits of paper with capital-letter phrases: “Tackle adversity!” ”Squad up!” ”Sacrifice!” ”Unleash the beast!” He left behind a sign filled with life advice printed over a Redskins logo, beginning with the line: “People are often unreasonable, irrational, & self-centered; forgive them anyway.”
The player known as RG3 is expected to be let go by the team that dealt a trove of draft picks for the right to pick him No. 2 overall in 2012, then soared to a division title that season as he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Griffin was replaced as the starting quarterback this preseason by Kirk Cousins.
Now the most important topic of the offseason for NFC East champion Washington (9-8) will be negotiations to sign Cousins to a long-term deal.
“You try to build your team around that position. … Having some stability there is important - and something we look forward to having,” coach Jay Gruden said Monday, a day after the NFC East champions’ season ended with a 35-18 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“To watch (Cousins) get better throughout the course of the season, stay humble, continue to work and prepare was fun to be a part of,” Gruden said, “and moving forward, we’re excited about the thought of him being our quarterback.”
Cousins wasn’t in the locker room while it was open to the media.
Approached by reporters, Griffin declined to take questions, saying only: “I don’t plan on talking.”
He did not take a snap all season and was inactive for 16 of Washington’s 17 games, including Sunday; the only time Griffin was on the game-day roster was when the team had too many injured players to dress 46 without him.
“Robert handled it very well. Obviously wasn’t happy,” Gruden said. “I think in the long run, hopefully it’ll make him a better quarterback. I know he grew a lot being a third-string quarterback here. Different system, different terminology. Things that were new to him. With the skill set that he has, and (what) he learned from the Shanahans, and the new stuff that he learned from us, I think will make him a better quarterback wherever he goes, however it works out for him.”
Players echoed those thoughts.
“You really feel for the guy, because he’s been through a lot in such a short time in his life,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “He still was a good teammate, still came to work with a positive mindset, still tried to get better every day in practice. You’ve got to respect him for that. He could have just gone in the tank.”
Other things to know about the Redskins:
FROM WORST TO FIRST: After six last-place finishes in the last seven years, and a 7-25 record over the past two, Washington’s division title and playoff berth were certainly unexpected. “We get another offseason to kind of continue to fill holes on this team and add depth and to add competition,” Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said.
MCCLOUGHAN’S JOB: As general manager Scot McCloughan heads into his second offseason with the Redskins, he has a long to-do list - and a lot of stored-up good will among the team’s fans and players. “He’s been around rebuilding franchises twice, with San Francisco and with Seattle,” cornerback Will Blackmon said. “He helped build those teams. … They got the right guy, I believe.”
GALETTE’S TATTOO: Pass rusher Junior Galette, out all season after tearing his Achilles tendon, said he intends to sign a new contract with the Redskins - “I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. There’s no doubt about it.” - and, as if to prove his devotion to the team, rolled up a sleeve of his gray shirt to reveal a Redskins logo tattooed on his right arm.
RUNNING GAME: Could be a lot of changes in the running game, which struggled. Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Pierre Thomas and Chris Thompson are not under contract for next season. “Alfred and I exchanged jerseys last night,” said Young, a fullback. “We signed it to each other and finally said, ‘We’ve met brothers, brothers for life, regardless what happens.’”
WHO COULD GO: Other players whose contracts are up include nose tackle Terrance Knighton, safeties Dashon Goldson and Duke Ihenacho, linebacker Keenan Robinson and punter Tress Way.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
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