On his list of 2020 NFL offseason winners and losers, ESPN writer Bill Barnwell placed Dwayne Haskins in the latter category.
Now, before anyone brings their virtual pitchforks and virtual torches to Barnwell's Twitter mentions for a virtual riot, the respected analyst does bring up some valid points in his argument for dropping Haskins on the losers side. But overall, it's completely fair to wonder if Barnwell's label is truly justified.
So, let's first look at what he wrote before crafting a reaction:
Washington did avoid the lure of using the second overall pick on a quarterback, but it did little to help its starting quarterback.
Haskins' receiving corps beyond Terry McLaurin was lacking last season, and the most notable free agents his team imported to help out its young starter were Cody Latimer and Richard Rodgers. Washington used midround picks on hybrid back Antonio Gibson and wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden, but it also traded away star left tackle Trent Williams without adding a meaningful replacement.
OK. There you have Barnwell's take. Let's craft that reaction.
Barnwell's first sentence is too dismissive of what feels like a very large reason why 1) Haskins shouldn't be an offseason loser, and 2) why he may even be an offseason winner: He's the team's starting quarterback.
All sorts of QB rumors circled Washington during free agency and the draft, but in the end, Haskins trusted Ron Rivera and now has a chance to lay claim to the long-term job. The franchise could've signed Cam Newton or drafted Tua Tagovailoa, for example, yet it ultimately didn't. They acquired Kyle Allen, sure, but he projects to be a perfect backup and nothing more as of now.
So, here are the Redskins, set to begin a new era for the organization, and they're entrusting Haskins to lead them into it. That's an enormous statement, and also one that doesn't indicate he's having a rough offseason.
In his second paragraph, meanwhile, Barnwell makes assertions that are right on the surface but don't exactly tell the entire story.
Like he notes, "the receiving corps beyond Terry McLaurin was lacking last season." That's true if you look at the overall 2019 stats, but it ignores the connection Haskins was forming with both Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon down the stretch. Those two improved when No. 7 began to get more comfortable, suggesting that better production is on its way.
Now, it's hard to disagree with what happened in free agency. Rivera really wanted to land Amari Cooper, and instead, he ended up with Latimer, Rodgers and Logan Thomas. That's not an inspiring haul.
However, Gibson and Gandy-Golden are being regarded as prudent Day 2 and Day 3 choices, guys who are far from your average cross-your-fingers selections. Of course, they aren't even close to Cooper's level yet, but those two combined with McLaurin, Sims, Harmon and JD McKissic mean that Haskins will have a broader core of weapons to work with than he did as a rookie. That's another win for him.
As for trading away Williams, it's impossible to deny how that weakens the offensive line. Minutes later, though, the team did come away with someone they view as a "meaningful replacement" like Barnwell phrased it, drafting Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round. Between him and Cornelius Lucas, Haskins should find himself behind a tackle who's at least comparable to what Donald Penn was in 2019, and maybe even better.
At the very least, Haskins' presence in the loser category doesn't feel right, and those more optimistic about the Redskins' changes could even claim he deserves to be identified as a winner.
He's the starter, he's surrounded by a staff that's backing him and he has more on offense to lean on. Those moves may come across as minor from a national perspective, but locally, they appear like the beginning of a potential upswing.
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