Washington abruptly waived running back Derrius Guice on Friday, after word emerged of his arrest on multiple charges relating to three alleged domestic-violence incidents dating back to February. The move became official on Saturday, with a deadline for making waiver claims on the balance of Guice’s contract arriving at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The nature of the charges, including a felony count of strangulation, makes it very unlikely that anyone would embrace Guice, especially since he’d quite possibly land on the Commissioner Exempt list. But the possibility can’t be completely eliminated that a team has performed an expedited investigation and determined that Guice could eventually be cleared. (We’re not saying he will be or should be; we’re saying that there’s a chance some team has looked into the situation and come to that conclusion.) That’s precisely what Washington did with linebacker Reuben Foster in 2018, welcoming the former first-round pick after the 49ers cut him following his latest alleged incident of domestic violence.
Foster was placed on the Commissioner Exempt list, but he eventually was cleared by authorities, and fined (not suspended) by the league.
Washington’s effort to embrace a new culture likely resulted in a hair-trigger decision to dump Guice, possibly without knowing anything about the specifics of the charges or whether they have real merit (and they definitely may). At this point, no one knows whether they do or they don’t; however, we know from experience (most recently, former Washington now Seattle cornerback Quinton Dunbar) that allegations don’t always lead to actual criminal jeopardy or consequences.
If Guice were a bottom-of-the-barrel slappy, it wouldn’t even be a question. He’d be radioactive. Given that he was one of the top running backs in the 2018 draft and has flashed glimpses of high-end potential (injuries have been an issue), it’s impossible to rule out anything at this point.
There’s always a coach who thinks he can fix a problem player. There’s always a team that can or will welcome a P.R. complication in the name of enhancing the chances of winning games. There’s always a possibility that someone will learn something that will prompt them to call dibs on Guice.
Whether they should is one question. Whether they will is a different matter entirely.
Of course, it’s also possible that teams who may have looked into the situation have quickly learned that Guice is likely guilty, and that will not even consider adding him until the situation is resolved. The point is that, until 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, we won’t know whether a team has decided to roll the dice on Guice, or whether all 31 other franchises will avoid him at all costs.