The Washington Football Team has announced that they have released 2019 15th overall pick Dwayne Haskins after less than two seasons with the franchize. Haskins was benched midway through Washington’s weekend loss to Carolina, just a week after being fined $40,000 and stripped of his captaincy for breaching Covid-19 protocol.
“This afternoon I met with Dwayne and informed him that we would be releasing him,” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways. We want to thank Dwayne for his contributions these last two seasons and wish him well moving forward.”
Following Washington’s week 15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, pictures surfaced on social media of Haskins partying in a strip club without wearing a mask. Haskins would be fined $40,000 for the breach in Covid-19 protocol and stripped of his captaincy, which he earned this offseason after being voted in by his teammates. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that the fine is the largest for a breach in Covid-19 protocol and makes up over half of Haskins’ weekly wage.
“My time with the WFT has unfortunately come to an end,” Haskins wrote on his private Twitter account, per ESPN.com. “I thank the team & fans for the opportunity to play for the team I grew up rooting for. I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of an NFL QB & will become a better man & player because of this experience.”
Despite Haskins’ lack of discipline and with veteran quarterback Alex Smith still missing with a calf injury, the 23-year-old started last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Haskins was benched in the fourth quarter for third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke, exiting the game with a passing line of 14 of 28 for 154 yards and two interceptions.
Since taking over the head coach position in Washington, Ron Rivera never seemed to buy into Haskins as the future of the franchize and at the NFL Scouting Combine openly discussed the possibility of drafting a quarterback with the team’s second overall pick.
Washington instead traded for Kyle Allen and Rivera was quick to reveal there would be an open competition between the two for the starting role. While Haskins beat out Allen in the starting competition, several offseason reports suggested that Haskins’ dedication to film and studying did not meet Rivera’s requirements.
Despite naming Haskins as his starter, Rivera would regularly criticize the quarterback’s poor general play openly, as well as his inability to get through his reads, his lack of explosive plays and the overall incompetence of the offense with Haskins at the helm.
Just four games into the season and with Washington still in with a shot of the NFC East title despite a record of 1-3, Rivera made the decision to bench Haskins in favour of his offseason competition rival Kyle Allen. Rivera had enjoyed some reasonable success with Allen at Carolina but the experiment did not work and instead it was veteran Alex Smith who made a miraculous return to the NFL and cemented his place as Washington Football Team starting quarterback, at least until he would injure his calf later in the season.
“We’re 1-3. Watching the game and Dwayne’s play, Dwayne needs more work,” Rivera told reporters back in October after announcing the decision to bench Haskins. “He just hasn’t had enough work in, and that’s the thing I think I hope that everyone understands. He’s got a live NFL arm. But he only played one year in college, he played very limited last year — I liked the things that I saw from last year — and this year he played, we gave him every opportunity, we gave him all the reps with the 1s, we gave him an opportunity to start four games and gave us a chance to truly evaluate him.
“But with the (NFC East) division where it is right now, I’d be stupid not to give it a shot and see what happens in the next four games. But I wanted to put it in the hands of somebody who knows the system a little bit better, backed up by a guy that’s been there,” Rivera continued at the time.
“He should be disappointed. If he wasn’t disappointed, I’d be concerned,” Rivera said of Haskins. “But right now we’re in a situation where, if we’re still trying teach one guy and the other 52 aren’t given the opportunity to see if we can win these next four games, then that’s not fair.
“We’re trying to develop a young quarterback, but we’ve got one eye on what’s happening in our division. If somebody was 4-0 and somebody else was 3-1, OK. But there’s a chance to win here.”
Haskins’ future in the NFL is murky at best at the minute as the young slinger endures a tough week that saw him fined, stripped of his captaincy and then eventually released. He now finds himself in the strange situation of being a first-round pick released before his second season is complete and will most likely be looking at a backup role at best in 2021.