NFL Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns
Toni L. Sandys

Former No. 15 overall pick quarterback Dwayne Haskins spent just two seasons with the Washington Football Team before his release. Having a new head coach who did not select him take over the franchise in his second season did not help matters, but Haskins' play on and off the field did play into his release as well.

Haskins went 1-5 as the starter in 2020 and completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,439 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. In a recent podcast interview with Colin Cowherd of FS1, Washington head coach Ron Rivera spoke on the franchise's decision to release Haskins. While he admitted Haskins had talent, he said the former Ohio State star struggled to "prioritize" and felt as if something prohibited him from taking his game to the next level.

"You know what? I tried to come to terms with him," Rivera told Cowherd, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. "He's a very talented player. He's got an NFL arm, a legit arm, and there's a part of him that he wants to, but something keeps getting in the way. I'm not sure what it was, and that was the hard part because he puts in the time, and then he doesn't. And you're wondering, 'Where is he? What's he doing?' You see him over there and you go, 'OK,' and then you don't see him. So I think the thing he needs to do is just prioritize. The kid, as I said, he's talented, and if he ever does get it, he's going to make an impact."

The events that led up to Haskins' release in December back up Rivera's thoughts. After Alex Smith went down with a calf injury, Haskins was reinserted into the starting lineup in Week 15 for Washington's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. In the 20-15 loss, Haskins threw for 295 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and unfortunately grabbed headlines with what he did after the final whistle. 

Haskins was seen at what was reported to be an exotic club not wearing a mask, which was a clear violation of COVID-19 protocols. He apologized to his teammates for his mistake, and was fined and stripped of his title as captain. Haskins was then given another chance to start and potentially clinch an NFC East title in Week 16 against Rivera's former team in the Carolina Panthers, but he threw for just 154 yards and two interceptions before being benched for Taylor Heinicke in the second half. Less than 24 hours later, Haskins was released.

In January, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Haskins to a one-year deal. General manager Kevin Colbert is optimistic about the signing and says that the Steelers gave Haskins a high draft grade when he was coming out of college.

"We're excited to see what Dwayne can do with us," Colbert said. "It didn't work out for him in Washington. We had high grades on Dwayne coming out of Ohio State. He got picked a lot higher than we were able to make that decision. ... He's a young, talented quarterback that we're anxious to see what he can do once he gets here and gets working with us."

There's no question Haskins could have done more for himself on and off the field in his first two seasons, but he really has his whole career in front of him. If he can learn from his mistakes and "prioritize" as Rivera put it, Haskins could end up showing the NFL world why he was considered one of the top signal-callers in the 2019 NFL Draft