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Case Keenum welcomes competition with Dwayne Haskins

May 7, 2019

On his fifth team in six years, Case Keenum says he’s been around the league long enough to not be surprised “by just about anything.”

So when the Washington Redskins traded for the veteran this offseason and still drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick, the 31-year-old wasn’t fazed. The Redskins, too, informed him of their plans to add another signal-caller ahead of time.

He welcomes the competition.

“This is no new game to me,” Keenum said Monday from the team’s charity golf tournament in Arlington. “I’ve been in this situation before.”

Speaking with reporters for the first time since being traded to Washington, Keenum said he’s ready to compete for the Redskins’ starting job this summer. The Redskins will have a competition for the spot, but as of now, coach Jay Gruden has yet to map out a plan for how he wants to divide the reps.

To win the job, Keenum must beat out Haskins and veteran Colt McCoy. But at the same time, the Redskins plan to be patient with their rookie quarterback and McCoy will be unavailable for the time being as he recovers from a broken leg. McCoy underwent a third operation on his leg last month, and Gruden said Monday he hopes the quarterback will return for training camp.

Those factors appear to give Keenum an advantage early on.

“He’s great, man,” Gruden said of Keenum. “He’s a pro. He understands pro football, the business. He’s been on a couple of teams in a short career already, but he is also a great competitor. Him and Colt are both great competitors from the same area. ... They know nothing is going to be handed to them.”

Keenum has been around the Redskins’ facility since the start of the team’s offseason program in mid-April. In that time, Gruden has gotten to know the quarterback, bonding over golf. “He’s whooped me twice,” Gruden said.

The Redskins traded for Keenum in the offseason after the Denver Broncos decided to move on after just one year into a two-year, $36 million deal.

Broncos general manager John Elway originally hoped that Keenum, who led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC title game the year prior, would be the answer at quarterback a position they’ve struggled to fill since Peyton Manning’s retirement in 2016. But Keenum threw for 18 touchdowns to 15 interceptions and Denver finished 6-10. Denver instead opted to trade for quarterback Joe Flacco and later drafted Drew Lock.

The Redskins didn’t have to give up much for Keenum. They sent a sixth-round pick to Denver and received a 2020 seventh-rounder in return. Keenum also agreed to restructure his contract to a one-year, $7 million deal, leaving Washington only to pay $3.5 million with Denver agreeing to pick up the other half.

Now with the Redskins, Keenum called Washington a “quarterback friendly” place, pointing to the former quarterbacks on the coaching staff. In addition to Gruden, offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay and offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh all played the position.

Keenum said he’s excited to work with Haskins. He added a good quarterback room “is a noisy room” and likes being able to share his knowledge.

But he made it clear his first priority is to win the starting role instead of being a mentor.

Keenum has held off a rookie quarterback before. In 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams, he beat out Jared Goff that year’s first overall pick for the starting job until he was benched in mid-November.

“First of all my job is to help this team win no matter what,” Keenum said. “And that’s being ready to play. That’s being ready to put our offense specifically in the best position to move the ball, get first downs, get touchdowns, score points. That’s my job. That’s what I’m here to do.

“Along that process, different things you learn, we might mention something, but we’ve got a lot of great coaches in that quarterback room, so I don’t need to be a coach in that sense.”