Wednesday offered another reminder the world revolves around the New England Patriots, for better or worse.
Not only did the team capture headlines in wake of cornerback Stephon Gilmore reportedly testing positive for COVID-19. The Patriots also were floated in social media speculation — as they typically are — after the Washington Football Team benched quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Now, let’s be clear: There’s nothing to this point directly linking Haskins to the Patriots, who are navigating their first season since Tom Brady’s free agency departure. But current Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, who missed New England’s Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs due to the coronavirus, only is signed for the 2020 campaign.
So, while Newton has excelled thus far in three games with New England, there’s still significant uncertainty as to who will be the Patriots’ QB in 2021 and beyond. Could Haskins be an option?
R.J. White, senior editor for CBSSports.com, floated the idea Wednesday morning with a lighthearted tweet.
White wasn’t alone in connecting those dots, though. Others chimed in with similar sentiments after Washington inserted Kyle Allen into the starting role and bumped Alex Smith to the No. 2 spot.
Of course, it’s entirely possible Washington’s move is temporary, with Haskins eventually regaining the job and making good on his potential as a first-round pick. Just like it’s entirely possible the Patriots re-sign Newton this offseason, hand the keys to Jarrett Stidham or pursue another quarterback, either via free agency, trade or the draft.
But the Haskins-Patriots chatter makes for good Twitter debate, if nothing else. Plus, as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller pointed out, it’s totally fair to wonder whether Washington will consider trading Haskins, especially with the 23-year-old inactive for this week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
One could argue benching Haskins is shortsighted, even though the second-year signal-caller undoubtedly has struggled in his brief NFL career. Trading him even more so.
Sure, it’s been ugly at times. But Haskins started just 14 games at Ohio State before Washington selected him 15th overall in 2019. He all along figured to be a project quarterback, with a condensed offseason due to COVID-19 only complicating matters for him and others.
That said, Washington has a new head coach this season in Ron Rivera. Perhaps his overall assessment of Haskins’ future is far less flattering, in which case a trade isn’t outside the realm of possibility, whether it be before the Nov. 3 deadline or after this season.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will be in the thick of every outside debate regarding quarterbacks, unless Newton signs a contract extension before reaching free agency. Such is life in the post Brady era.
It hardly means Bill Belichick will kick the tires on Haskins, let alone show genuine interest in acquiring the former Buckeyes star. But a young, high-upside quarterback on his rookie contract is a valuable asset, and the Patriots are without a long-term answer at the position.
The speculation, however baseless it might be right now, is understandable. And probably a little annoying for those who would prefer to see the Patriots fall outside the limelight for a few minutes.