The Washington Redskins released quarterback Robert Griffin III two days before the start of the 2016 NFL year, clearing $16.155 million off of their salary cap. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins have ended quarterback Robert Griffin III’s tenure with the team, releasing him two days before the start of the 2016 NFL year, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The long-anticipated move clears $16.155 million off of the Redskins’ salary cap, freeing up much-needed money for the team to upgrade the roster in free agency, and gives Griffin a chance to revive his once-promising career. Griffin now has the freedom to sign with whichever team he wants.

Thus ends one of the most dramatic rises and falls in recent NFL history.

After taking the league by storm with a record-setting rookie campaign, leading Washington to the NFC East title and first round of the playoffs, Griffin never managed to recapture the magic after tearing ligaments in his right knee in that playoff loss to Seattle.

He struggled to transition from zone-read, dual-threat quarterback to a traditional pocket passer while playing under two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan and then well-respected quarterback guru Jay Gruden.

Griffin entered the 2015 season as the starter, but after an uneven preseason performance and a concussion that took place in the third exhibition game, the Redskins made an abrupt change, benching Griffin for fellow 2012 draft class member Kirk Cousins.

Griffin dressed for only one game, but as third-string quarterback for the entire season, never took a snap.

Despite committing to Cousins for the 2016 season, and public statements by both Coach Jay Gruden and team president Bruce Allen that Griffin’s time in Washington was over, the Redskins waited until Monday to release Griffin.

Robert Griffin III has been released by the Redskins. (Richard Lipski/Associated Press) Robert Griffin III has been released by the Redskins. (Richard Lipski/Associated Press)

The quarterback posted several goodbye notes to fans on social media Monday, including a long message on his WhoSay account, which thanked everyone from Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to receptionist B.J. Blanchard, who works the front desk at Redskins Park:

It was a blessing guys. After 4 years, my days as a part of this team have come to an end. I just want to take the time to say thank you #SkinsNation. Thank you for welcoming my family with open arms in 2012. You guys made it truly an honor to play for you and I couldn’t imagine starting my career anywhere else. Thank you to Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, all the Skins coaches, training staff, equipment managers and everyone in the organization for giving me an opportunity to play this beautiful game at the highest level here in Washington. A special thanks to front desk extraordinaire B.J. Blanchard, who always has a smile on her face and is the plug for chocolate chips cookies. Thank you to my teammates for all the memories & relationships over the past 4 years. You guys have helped thru all the ups and downs over the years and have become a part of my family for life. I wish you all the best and you always have a brother to lean on. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Although my time here is over, I’m excited about what the future brings!!! I look forward to finding the team where God has me to be and growing with that team on the way to World Championships. God Bless #ThankYou

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