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Washington Football Team releases former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins

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Washington Football Team releases former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw two interceptions and had a fumble in a loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Landover, Md. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The Washington Football Team released second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Monday, one day after he was benched in a loss to the Carolina Panthers.

In a statement, Washington head coach Ron Rivera said he met with Haskins on Monday to inform him of the decision.

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"I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways," Rivera said. "We want to thank Dwayne for his contributions these last two seasons and wish him well moving forward."

In a post on social media, Haskins wrote: "I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of a NFL QB [and] will become a better man [and] player because of this experience."

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About two hours before Haskins' release, Rivera said that Washington would start Taylor Heinicke if veteran quarterback Alex Smith was unable to play in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Football Team (6-9) can clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles.

Following the WFT's 20-13 loss to the Panthers on Sunday, Haskins said he had the "hardest week" of his life and needs to get his life together.

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The No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft completed 14 of 28 passes for 154 yards and had two interceptions and a fumble before he was benched in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game in Landover, Md.

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"You sign up for this job. It is what it is," Haskins said. "Sometimes being human isn't enough.

"You've got to own up to your responsibilities and mistakes and be a better person moving forward, put your best foot forward and pray for an opportunity. When you have it [you have to] make the most of it. You never know when you'll get another one."

Haskins began the season as Washington's starter before he was benched in Week 5. He returned to the field after Smith was injured in Week 14 and started each of Washington's last two games.

Haskins on Wednesday was fined $40,000 for violating COVID-19 protocols and later stripped of his captaincy.

"This was definitely the hardest week of my life," Haskins said. "I just want to bounce back and move forward and pray and get my life together."

Haskins on Wednesday said that he felt Sunday's game was his last chance to prove that he deserved to be the team's starting quarterback.

Rivera said he considered benching Haskins earlier in Sunday's game, but he hoped the team could repeat the strong second-half effort he saw in Week 15. He called Taylor Heinicke's performance -- in relief of Haskins -- "gutsy" and said the backup quarterback gave the team a chance to win.

"We didn't get anything going, so I decided to make the change," Rivera said Sunday when asked about benching Haskins.

Rivera also said Haskins "deserved" to start on Sunday. Smith was on track to play in Week 16 before Rivera said "he wasn't feeling it" on Saturday and wasn't active on Sunday due to a calf injury.

"Sometimes you have to go through hard knocks. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can dig your way back out of it. Sometimes a change helps," Rivera said Monday. "With Dwayne, it's what have you learned? What are you going to take from these experiences that are going to help you grow and get better?

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"That's the big thing with him and the thing I hope he learns from these experiences. Hopefully, they'll make him stronger and they'll help him and, hopefully, when he gets his next opportunity, he'll make the best of it."

In two seasons with Washington, Haskins completed 60.1% of his passes for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Washington faces the Eagles at 8:20 p.m. EST on Sunday in Philadelphia.

This week in the National Football League

The Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen (R) gets a high five from guard Jon Feliciano after a throwing a touchdown Monday night against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., where the Bills defeated the Patriots 38-9. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

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