Washington Football Team Weekly Roundup: Adrian Peterson released
It has been a busy week for the NFL franchise based in the nations’ capital as the Washington Football Team made a pair of additions and a pair of subtractions to the roster in the last week of training camp including the release of a first-ballot Hall of Famer on Friday as well as named a starter for the season opener just over a week away.
Here’s what you might have missed since the start of the week:
Washington began the week by swapping out a pair of young wide receivers with the signing undrafted rookie wide receiver Tony Brown followed by the waiving former undrafted free agent Darvin Kidsy.
Brown went undrafted out the University of Colorado and spent time with the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants before landing in the nation’s capital. In his last collegiate season, he recorded career-highs across the board with 56 catches for 707 yards and five touchdowns and added another 33 yards and touchdown rushing on six carries.
Kidsy originally signed with Washington after going undrafted in 2018 out of Texas Southern. He was waived following the preseason that year but was brought back on the practice squad and appeared in two games. Last season Kidsy split time between the practice squad and active roster as well. In five career regular-season games he’s recorded just one catch for eight yards and two solo tackles on special teams.
The next day Washington acquired some depth at offensive tackle and some draft capital when they announced the trade of a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for David Sharpe and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
Sharpe was originally drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Florida. He was cut by the Raiders prior to the 2018 season, signed to the Houston Texans practice squad, activated for two games, waived in October of that year then claimed off waivers by the Raiders two days later.
He has appeared in 24 games and made four starts in his first three seasons. At 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, he possesses good size and length. His starting experience, while brief, at the pro level, makes him a solid swing tackle option behind projected starters Geron Christian Sr and Morgan Moses.
With the season opener just one more Sunday away, Head Coach Ron Rivera made his decision on who would be leading the charge on offense when they welcome the division rival Philadelphia Eagles to town for an NFC East showdown to christen the new season. Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins was named the Week One starter after beating out 16-year veteran Alex Smith and former undrafted free agent Kyle Allen in training camp.
“You know exactly who our starter is, but more importantly, our players know who our starter is,” Rivera told reporters. “I’ve been very pleased with his efforts, his attitude, and the way he approached everything.”
While Smith is coming off one of the most horrific injuries in the history of sports and Allen floundered in his limited time as a starter and was acquired via trade this offseason for a late-round draft pick, Rivera believes that Haskins earned and deserves this opportunity. He also said that Haskins has his full support and that he hopes the two of them can build something similar to what he had with former league MVP and three-time Pro Bowler Cam Newton in Carolina with the Panthers.
“He deserves the opportunity,” Rivera said. “He’s going to get my support. Hopefully, we can ride it as long as I rode it with Cam.”
Ordinarily, the proclamation of the starter at the most important position in all of sports would be the news of the week but after a quiet day on Thursday, Washington made national headlines Friday morning after announcing the release of veteran running back and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson.
It was a surprise not only to those around the league as well as those who follow and pay close attention to the team but Peterson himself was blinded sided by his sudden and unexpected release from the team he has spent the last two season and nearly all training camp with.
“It comes as a surprise. I didn’t feel I showed anything that would warrant being released,” Peterson told ESPN.
Outside of the quarterback position and especially when it comes to the running back position, the NFL is a young man’s game with talented fresh legged not to mention inexpensive players are always coming up the pipeline hungry to make a name for themselves.
However, Peterson isn’t your typical veteran running back on the wrong side of 30. Even though he’s well into his 30s, Peterson is still capable of producing at a moderate to a high level. Washington has relied on him to be their default workhorse back for the past two years after expected starter Derrius Guice was lost for the year with season-ending knee injuries.
Once again Guice was slated to be the featured back in the team’s offense heading into the 2020 season but after a domestic violence incident led to his immediate release last month, it has been assumed until now that Peterson would be called upon yet again and it was widely expected that he would answer the call and churn out a third straight productive season.
It is apparent that won’t be the case this year, as the team is choosing to move forward with a younger backfield by committee that consists of rookie Antonio Gibson, second-year pro Bryce Love who missed his entire rookie season recovering from a knee injury but has looked good in camp, five-year vet Peyton Barber, and pass-catching specialist J.D. McKissic, at least until the final roster cuts are made Saturday.
Peterson still desires to continue his playing career and accepts that he will have to do it elsewhere even though he thought he’d be doing it in the nation’s capital as the leader of their young position group.
“I did not see an indicator I would be released,” Peterson said. “Ultimately it came down to them knowing Bryce is coming back, and he’s looking good, looking healthy. Barber is a younger guy as well who can contribute. At one point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if all five of us made the team, with all of them except me being able to play special teams.”
Peterson is currently fifth on the all-time rushing list and aspires to overtake Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith for the top spot with 4,139 more yards to go. He believes that he has several more years left in the tank and reportedly already has multiple suitors lined up for services. He rushed for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two years with Washington and started all but one game over that span.