Are you needing someone to try to help make sense of the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday signing of free agent quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the 2019 first-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team? Well. allow me to volunteer myself for that job.
For starters, color me as shocked as most that the Steelers decided to sign Haskins. After all, we’re talking about a very immature kid in the Ohio State product. Just look at all the teams that passed on Haskins when he was waived by Washington several weeks ago. As a recent former first-round draft pick, his contract, had it been claimed, presented great value if a team thought he was salvageable to at least be a backup in 2021. The fact that Haskins cleared waivers speaks volumes.
So, why are the Steelers now taking a flyer on Haskins? For starters, the Steelers currently only have two quarterbacks under contract for the 2021 season in Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph as 2020 third-stringer Joshua Dobbs is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March and 2020 practice squader Devlin Hodges wasn’t re-signed to a Reserve/Future contract recently. Roethlisberger has also not yet made it known that he’s coming back to play in 2021, either. While we think he will, it’s not yet guaranteed to happen. In short, the Steelers needed a cheap backup quarterback body and one with some playing experience if possible.
Next, we know that Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert just can’t help himself when it comes to young and old players with high draft pedigree that are cheap. Heck, just look at the long list of quarterbacks he’s signed since 2000 that were originally selected in the first-round of NFL drafts. That list includes Tommy Maddox, Byron Leftwich, Michael Vick, Paxton Lynch and now Haskins.
Did I mention that Haskins is cheap? In all likelihood, the one-year contract that Haskins just signed includes no guaranteed money and a minimum salary of $850,000. Not only that, should Haskins exceed expectations in 2021, whatever those expectations might be, he will only be a restricted free agent a year from now and thus easily retained by the Steelers via an appropriate level restricted tender. If he fails to meet expectations at any time moving forward, the Steelers can just cut him.
The Steelers are obviously comfortable with their locker room being able to handle such a young and immature player such as Haskins. Heck, defensive captain Cameron Heyward, like Haskins, is an Ohio State product so you can bet those two will have a few conversations this offseason on what it means to be former Buckeyes and current Steelers. Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin know the locker room will get Haskins to fly straight or fly away really quick.
While I still don’t think the Steelers will ultimately draft another quarterback this year, and especially if Roethlisberger decides to return for at least one more season, the addition of Haskins on Thursday still doesn’t prevent such a thing from happening. Once again, the team doesn’t have any real money invested in Haskins so should Colbert and company deem there to a be a quarterback worthy of drafting this year, they can do so at will.
While I’m personally not doing cartwheels after the Thursday signing of Haskins, and mainly due to his NFL tape to date as well as his actions both on and off the field, I certainly understand why he was added so early in the offseason. What if he works out and at worst becomes a future backup for the team on the cheap for the next few seasons? Additionally, the Steelers might now at least have some sort of option on board to be the team’s starter for at least one season in 2022. Remember, both Roethlisberger and Rudolph are only under contract through the 2021 season. While the same goes for Haskins right now as well, he can be easily retained next offseason via a restricted free agent tender if wanted.
So, does all the above now help make better sense of the Steelers Thursday signing of Haskins? It should. At worst, Haskins should stick around anywhere from the next few weeks until the end of the preseason. At best, he’ll be on the roster for at least the next two seasons and maybe even longer, should he suddenly start living up to his draft pedigree and round he was originally selected in.
— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) January 21, 2021