Pittsburgh has a new quarterback, but he’s not a quarterback – at least not yet.
The Steelers announced Thursday that they have signed a contract for the future of former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins after the quarterback met with a group of Steelers coaches during a visit.
What does Haskins’ signing mean for his future and that of the Steelers?
The Steelers signed Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph for another season, so why Haskins?
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Haskins’ signing is a risky move for the Steelers. Whether it’s this year or next, the Steelers need a new starting quarterback, as Roethlisberger turns 39 in March. They don’t have the room to sign a high-priced quarterback, either on the open market or in a transaction, and with the number 24 pick in the draft, they are far from a Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields game.
The Steelers can always choose a quarterback like Mack Jones at Alabama or Kyle Trask at Florida, but they have other pressing needs, like offensive tackle. The Steelers should do their homework on all the cheap quarterbacks available for week one, and Haskins is a good place to start. However, it becomes more difficult to assess potential matchups with the team’s culture and offensive pattern when the 2021 offseason reflects the virtual nature of the 2020 roster.
Why a reserve/future contract?
These contracts are awarded to players like Haskins who did not finish the season on the roster. The new league year does not start until March and is therefore called a forward contract. The finances of Mr Haskins’ one-year contract have not been made public, but it can be said that he got value for money. The Steelers don’t have much wiggle room with their 2021 cap and can’t afford to spend money on what is essentially an extended trial.
Does this mean Roethlisberger is retiring?
Not necessarily. Following the defeat of the Cleveland Browns, Roethlisberger said he would pray and consult with his family about his next move. He was hired for $41.2 million in 2021, the final year of his contract, and he said he hoped the Steelers would want him back if he decided to go this route.
Will Ben Roethlisberger and Dwayne Haskins be teammates for the Steelers in the first week of the 2021 season? It’s a long off-season. Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports
Haskins’ signing does not mean Roethlisberger has decided to end his career. He was selected as a rookie in the first round, but Haskins is still developing and has shown that he is not ready for a starting position in Washington for two more seasons.
The addition of Haskins calls into question the future of third QB Josh Dobbs. Dobbs is a free agent in March, and the Steelers don’t need to put him back on Haskins’ roster. Haskins was even able to put Rudolph in second place behind Roethlisberger, but he is not the heir to the starting position.
Clearly, Haskins needs a fresh start after being released on the 28th. December in Washington was dismissed. Mike Tomlin’s school could be a good place for Haskins to rehabilitate his image on and off the field. It should also be noted that Haskins was the first. Janvier hired his agent Brian Levy to represent him. Levy, whose agency says Gall Line Football on its homepage, also represents Tomlin. You can connect the dots.
Haskins is good?
Haskins is nowhere near realizing his potential. Ron Rivera said he had the talent of a franchise quarterback, but Haskins’ numbers don’t indicate that. In 16 games, Haskins threw 12 touchdowns and 14 steals for a success rate of just 60.1%. For comparison: Roethlisberger’s completion percentage was 65.6% this season.
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Haskins spent 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his second season at Ohio State, but was still considered talented. Washington football team owner Dan Snyder was intrigued by the numbers and urged his team to select Haskins against the will of the organization with the No. 15 selection in 2019.
Washington’s plan in writing Haskins was to set him aside for the season to give him time to develop and mature, as requested by Ohio State coaches. Instead, the quarterback’s injuries combined with a disastrous record forced the staff to play against Haskins. Although he struggled initially, his final two games of the 2019 season showed signs of improvement, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His total QBR was 28 this season and 74.8 in his last two games. However, this season is very close to the first seven starts. He posted a total QBR of 31 and made five touchdowns for seven interceptions.
Can this really work?
It’s hard to say at this point. The main blow to Haskins in Washington was his lack of preparation and immaturity. Haskins was fined twice during the season, one of them $40,000 when he was suspended following the loss to Seattle on the 20th. December unmasked present at a friend’s birthday party with strippers.
Haskins improved so much during his rookie season that he had all first team rookies in training camp and was named starter and team captain for the 2020 season. But he ended up on the bench after four games, throwing four touchdown passes and three interceptions.
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When Haskins returned to action with injuries to Kyle Allen and Alex Smith, he showed no signs of improvement. In his last start, a 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Haskins posted an overall score of 4.1 in the BWC. He was stripped of his captaincy after an incident on his birthday and cut off after the Panthers loss.
After a chance to learn from Smith, one of the good guys in the NFL who also mentored prodigy Patrick Mahomes, Haskins fell back. In Pittsburgh, Haskins will get a chance to be led by Tomlin, but he’ll also observe Roethlisberger, who doesn’t attack like he did in his early years.
Although he is expected to work with young receivers from the wide team this season and help them develop, Roethlisberger is not known for his coaching role, so it will be up to the coaching staff to guide Haskins. Maybe this will help maximize Haskins’ potential. Washington’s attempts to help Haskins have not worked, but perhaps Tomlin and his pragmatic approach will be more successful.
John Keim of ESPN contributed to this story.