- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Football lore is loaded with can’t-miss college quarterbacks who’ve flamed out in the NFL. But few have fallen as far and as fast as Washington’s Dwayne Haskins.

The No. 15 overall pick of 2018 has, in just 18 months, gone from the future face of the franchise to third-string trade bait as coach Ron Rivera figures that Kyle Allen or veteran Alex Smith give his team a better shot at winning in an up-for-grabs NFC East.

Haskins’ defenders blame the benching on the Ohio State product being put in an unfair situation that doomed him to failure. Why blame Haskins for a lack of surrounding talent and multiple shifts in coaching staffs, none of which picked him or wanted him long term?

Those in agreement with the coach, however, point to Haskins’ struggles on the field and the 23-year-old’s maturity level off of it.

Perhaps lost in the debate is whether Haskins’ relationship with Washington is salvageable.

Eighteen months after Washington used a first-round pick on him, Haskins’ fall within the franchise has been severe — leading to discussion whether Washington should trade him, now or in the offseason.

CBS Sports reported over the weekend that Haskins’ camp believes a trade would be “far and away” the best outcome for his career, while citing sources from Washington that think a deal “by the end of the month” is likely. ESPN added that Haskins has yet to request a trade and no team has reached out to Washington about the signal-caller’s availability.

The NFL trade deadline isn’t until Nov. 3 — three weeks away — so Washington has time to figure out its next steps.

“By no means have I given up on him,” coach Ron Rivera said Friday.

If Washington decides to move on, there is precedent for a team trading a first-round quarterback so soon into his tenure. Just last year, the Arizona Cardinals shipped Josh Rosen — the tenth pick in 2018 — to the Miami Dolphins for a second pick. Washington, however, is unlikely to get such compensation given Haskins’ struggles and the quarterback market as a whole.

A team acquiring Haskins likely wouldn’t be doing so to make him their immediate starter, unless an injury arose. The price for backup quarterbacks tends to be much lower — Washington gave up only a fifth-rounder for Kyle Allen in the spring, for instance. (Allen, of course, is now starting.)

In the meantime, Haskins, who wasn’t at Sunday’s game with an illness, will have to accept his new role as the third-string quarterback. Rivera said the expectation for Haskins is to “learn and grow,” just like it would be for any player.

On Monday, Rivera said he could tell the first two days of practice were “difficult” for Haskins in his new role, but praised the quarterback’s attentiveness in meetings for Friday’s practice.

Throughout his time with Washington, Haskins’ work ethic and maturity has been called into question. The concerns were raised during his rookie year under Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan — and they resurfaced after his demotion. The Washington Post reported that Haskins’ practices habits lapsed once he was named starter. Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan also reported that Haskins’ apparent bragging of his 300-yard stat line following a loss to the Ravens irked teammates.

The dynamic between Haskins and Rivera has also come under scrutiny within the past week. CBS Sports’ report portrayed Rivera and his staff as having a “fairly toxic” relationship with Haskins, whose personality reportedly rubs them the wrong way. Haskins, meanwhile, does not follow Rivera on Twitter, despite following Turner and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Haskins has not addressed reporters in the past week. But those close to him have spoken out against the benching.

Quincy Avery, Haskins’ private quarterback coach, took a shot at offensive coordinator Scott Turner, tweeting, “Quarterbacks are as reliant on their playcaller as anyone in the world. … If my success was tied to a playcaller wouldn’t want it to be Scott Turner.”

Even before the switch, Haskins’ agent, David Mulugheta, blasted “the narrative” surrounding his client. He noted Haskins had only had 10 starts, was in a brand new system with no in-person OTAs or preseason and was playing with an inexperienced offensive line and limited weapons at receiver. “Yet ‘he’ is the one who must play well,” Mulugheta tweeted.

Asked about the tweet, Rivera acknowledged the circumstances around Haskins might have been unfair. But he sounded unfazed.

“Kyle (Allen) will have the same guys out there,” Rivera said. “He’ll have the same, unfair shake. We’ll see how it goes. That’s the thing everybody has to understand: We are who we are.”

As someone who dealt with a lot of dysfunction early on in his career with the San Francisco 49es, Alex Smith said he can relate to the situation that Haskins finds him in. Like Haskins, Smith was benched early on and dealt with a myriad of coaching changes.

Drawing from his experiences, Smith gave Haskins some advice. Don’t let yourself become a distraction, Smith said he told Haskins. He told the quarterback to focus on his development and reaching his potential.

“I feel for him for sure,” Smith said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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