Examining why the Ravens signed Robert Griffin III and passed on Colin Kaepernick

With Ravens decision makers reportedly being questioned under oath Thursday as part of Colin Kaepernick's collusion grievance against the NFL and Robert Griffin III agreeing to a one-year deal Wednesday, it could mark the end of the team's connection to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

It has been an eventful nine months since news broke that the Ravens were considering signing Kaepernick during training camp to back up Joe Flacco, who was out with a back injury.


The Ravens ultimately didn't sign Kaepernick after his girlfriend, radio host Nessa Diab, made what soon-to-be Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis referred to as a "racist gesture" on social media.

An Aug. 2 Twitter post by Diab compared Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and Lewis to characters from "Django Unchained": Leonardo DiCaprio's cruel plantation owner and Samuel L. Jackson's loyal house slave, respectively.


That came after discussion of Kaepernick coming to Baltimore polarized fans. Kaepernick had become a controversial figure for kneeling during the national anthem while with the 49ers in 2016, and hasn't been signed by an NFL team since.

Here are some likely reasons the Ravens chose to sign Griffin as their backup quarterback and passed on Kaepernick, as well as a look at their careers. Neither played a down last season:

Salary: Griffin's one-year deal is worth $1 million, according to the NFL Network — and the Ravens made it clear the signing wouldn't prevent them from adding a quarterback in the draft. According to the Associated Press, Kaepernick signed a six-year, $114 million contract with the 49ers in 2014, but restructured it to a two-year deal in 2016 to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017. It's not known what it would've cost to sign him.

Controversy: Griffin eventually ended up as a third-stringer with the Washington Redskins and didn't play a down in 2015 despite being the second overall pick three years before. Some reports questioned Griffin's work ethic, but in late October 2017 on a Washington, D.C., radio station, he talked about his time with the Redskins: "I was drafted to a team with a coach who didn't want me, with an organization that wasn't sold on me. And I think when you make that many trades or trade that many picks, you don't do that for a guy that you're not sold on. I think that's a situation that really hampered me thus far in my career."

Kaepernick was considered one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL and he nearly led the 49ers to a victory over the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. But his performance, and that of the 49ers, declined in 2015. Then he declined to stand for the nation anthem during the 2016 preseason. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said before a 49ers preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way." When the Ravens were exploring bringing Kaepernick in during the 2017 preseason, Kaepernick's girlfriend, Diab, posted a tweet that equated Lewis and Bisciotti to a slave and his master. According to Lewis, the team's pursuit of Kaepernick ended then.

Media attention: Griffin will likely bring more media to Ravens organized team activities, especially from the D.C. market, but nothing like the media circus that would be drawn if Kaepernick had been signed. Do teams really want that much scrutiny for a backup quarterback?

Career stats: In 42 games (40 starts) with the Redskins and Cleveland Browns, Griffin has attempted 1,210 passes and completed 766 for 8,983 yards, 42 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. His career passer rating is 88.4. He's also rushed 275 times for 1,670 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. In 69 career games (58 starts), Kaepernick has attempted 1,692 passes and competed 1,011 for 12,271 yards, 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His career passer rating is 88.9. He's also rushed 375 times for 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Team records: In 40 careers starts under Griffin, the Redskins and Browns went 15-25. In 58 career starts under Kaepernick, the 49ers were 28-30.


Draft position: Griffin was taken in the first round, No. 2 overall, in the 2012 draft by the Redskins. Kaepernick was taken in the second round, No. 36 overall, in the 2011 draft by the 49ers.

Age: Griffin is 28 (born Feb. 12, 1990); Kaepernick is 30 (born Nov. 3, 1987).

Height, weight: Griffin is 6 feet 2, 220 pounds; Kaepernick is 6-4, 225 pounds.

College: Griffin won the 2011 Heisman Trophy at Baylor; Kaepernick played for Nevada.

Below is some further background recapping the nine-month connection between Kaepernick and the Ravens.

July 29: Schmuck: Ravens fans outraged over Colin Kaepernick talk need some perspective


Aug. 2: Ravens deny ESPN report claiming Bisciotti has put up 'resistance' to signing Kaepernick

Aug. 5: Schmuck: Armed forces Ravens fan base also split on Colin Kaepernick

Sept. 6: Coach John Harbaugh moving 'way past' Ray Lewis assertion that Ravens were ready to sign Colin Kaepernick

Oct. 17: Questions and answers about Colin Kaepernick's grievance

March 5: Military official cautioned Ravens about signing Kaepernick, TMZ report says