Minutes after the Washington Football Team shipped off longtime left tackle Trent Williams to San Francisco, the Burgundy and Gold drafted who they hoped to be the seven-time Pro Bowler's replacement in Saahdiq Charles.
Charles' rookie season has not gone as planned. At all. And now, it's reportedly over.
The offensive lineman is reportedly undergoing season-ending surgery on the dislocated kneecap he suffered in Week 9 against the New York Giants, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Charles should be on track to return for minicamp, per Pelissero, which is scheduled for June 2021.
Washington OL Saahdiq Charles will undergo season-ending knee surgery Tuesday, source said. The promising fourth-round draft pick dislocated his kneecap on his second NFL snap and hoped to rehab. Instead, he’ll have surgery and should be on track for minicamp.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 16, 2020
The prognosis for Charles is worse than the team originally expected, as reports surfaced shortly after the injury that Washington hoped the rookie would be able to return following the team's Week 9 bye. He was later placed on IR, meaning Week 11 would've been the earliest Charles could have returned.
Charles' surgery is just the latest setback in what has turned into a loss of a rookie season for the fourth-round pick.
The former LSU Tiger missed most of training camp with a calf injury, one that held him out for the season opener. Upon returning to practice, Charles suffered a thigh injury that would keep him sidelined through Week 5.
Charles made his long-anticipated NFL debut in Week 6 against the New York Giants, but that lasted just two snaps before he was forced to exit with the dislocated kneecap that will prematurely end his 2020 campaign.
On the surface, Charles' loss isn't a super big deal. He's still under contract for the next three seasons, and head coach Ron Rivera said he was impressed with what he saw in limited action from the rookie.
But, with the Burgundy and Gold going through a rebuild, Rivera has played a flurry of rookies and second-year guys, an opportunity that Charles simply hasn't had and now won't get for the remainder of the season due to injury.
Since he took over as head coach, Rivera has preached using 2020 to find the young players he'll be able to build around for the future. That opportunity would have included Charles if he could have stayed healthy.
With Charles a question mark moving forward, it's now more difficult for Washington to evaluate its needs this offseason, particularly along the offensive line.
One obvious example is with right guard Brandon Scherff, who is set to hit free agency and will command a large payday. Had Charles, who played left guard in his lone NFL appearance, shown some promise as a rookie, maybe Rivera and his staff would have felt more comfortable letting Scherff walk.
At 6-foot-4, 322 pounds, Charles has the size to play left tackle at the NFL level, even if Washington originally used him at guard. Left tackle is a position the team is still trying to figure out its long-term plan at, too. Next season is Geron Christian's final year under his rookie contract, while Cornelius Lucas will also hit free agency following 2021.
At 2-7, it's unlikely that Washington will make a playoff run, even in the putrid NFC East. Once the team mathematically falls out of playoff contention, there's a chance Washington could have experimented with Charles at his natural left tackle position later in the season. Not anymore.
Charles' season-ending injury won't make or break Washington's 2020 season by any means. But what it does is prevent the fourth-round pick from establishing his place on the team, something Washington hoped to take away from this season with multiple young players as they try to build a winning culture in the nation's capital.