The New England Patriots, with just one quarterback under contract for the 2021 season, should explore any and all avenues to add a passer before next season.
But are they desperate enough to take a flyer on Dwayne Haskins, whom the Washington Football Team released Monday after a disastrous week for the young quarterback?
To recap: Haskins started and lost WFT’s Week 15 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks then was fined $40,000 by his team after photographs emerged of the QB attending his girlfriend’s birthday party unmasked. It was the second time he has broken COVID-19 protocol this season. He started WFT’s Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers and was benched in the fourth quarter for journeyman quarterback (and former Patriots practice-squadder) Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter.
Haskins, the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, had worn out his welcome in Washington under new head coach Ron Rivera. He completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while going 2-5 for Washington in 2019. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,439 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions while going 1-5 for Washington in 2020. The Football Team has gone 5-4 (4-1 with Alex Smith and 1-3 with Kyle Allen) in games Haskins hasn’t started this season. Haskins has also rushed 40 times for 147 yards with one touchdown in his career.
If a team claims Haskins, they’d owe him $1.8 million in 2021 and $2.5 million in 2022. That’s not a lot of money for a quarterback deemed worthy of a first-round pick less than two years ago. It’s also probably too much.
If Haskins goes unclaimed, however, then he might be worthy of a flyer on a minimum contract, practice-squad addition or future signing. Though he hasn’t been particularly impressive, he still has upside on the field as a recent first-round pick. The Patriots would have the offseason to see if Haskins is an off-field fit. And if he’s not, then he could be gone at any time with no further risk involved.
Haskins thrived under Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who’s close with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in 2018. A quick call to Meyer could be all it takes for Belichick to decide whether he’d even want to bother with Haskins.
It seems incredibly unlikely that Haskins suddenly will emerge as a future starting quarterback two years into his career. But the Patriots only have Jarrett Stidham under contract for the 2021 NFL season, with Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer hitting free agency and Jake Dolegala on the practice squad (but likely headed for a future signing).
Collecting quarterbacks to compete in 2021 is one potential plan for the Patriots. And if they draft or sign a better option at any point in the offseason, then they could easily release Haskins without penalty.
Claiming Haskins seems like a no go. But there are worse ideas than signing him if he hits the open market.