Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins is gone. He may not be quickly forgotten, not if the team claims that his remaining guarantees have become null and void and a legal fight ensues.
The first question becomes whether the team even cares to try. It may view Haskins’ fully-guaranteed 2021 and 2022 salaries (which exceed $4.2 million combined) as a sunk cost and not even bother to attempt to avoid the cash and cap obligation. The team also could play hardball, and based on the language of Haskins’ contract there’s reason to think that the franchise could have a case to avoid paying Haskins more than the $10 million he already has received under the four-year, $14.4 million deal he signed as the 15th pick in the 2019 draft.
The language of Haskins’ contract, a copy of which PFT has obtained, has specific terminology that voids remaining guarantees based on something less than an actual suspension. Here’s the key language, regarding : “Player shall be deemed in Default of the Contract if Player takes any action that Club determines, in its reasonable discretion, undermines the public’s respect for . . . Player’s teammates, Club’s ownership, coaches, [or] management.”
The Haskins contract also says that, in the event of a default, all remaining guarantees “shall immediately be deemed NULL AND VOID.” (Emphasis in original.)
There’s another angle that potentially could apply in Haskins’ case. Cutting Haskins for “personal conduct that has adversely affected” the team would position Washington to argue that, even though Haskins’ salaries for 2021 and 2022 are guaranteed for injury, skill, and salary cap, he was cut for none of those reasons. That’s the approach the Ravens took when cutting safety Earl Thomas and attempting to avoid his $10 million guaranteed salary for 2020. (A grievance is still pending.)
Between last week’s COVID-19 escapades (the team fined Haskins $40,000), Haskins’ apparent attempt to skip a mandatory media obligation (he eventually complied), and whatever else precipitated Washington abruptly deciding to cut him, there’s surely a fact or two (or more) that could be used to make the case that Haskins should get nothing more than the $10 million he’s already gotten. Although a grievance undoubtedly would be filed, the facts always drive the outcome — and Haskins’ behavior (as confirmed by his multiple public apologies) could make it easier for an arbitrator to rule against him.
Again, this all depends on whether Washington chooses to fight. Based on the various pieces of litigation that owner Daniel Snyder is currently pursuing and/or defending, it’s safe to say that, if there’s a way to save some money and/or send a message, Snyder will be in favor of exercising his right to do so.