Will the Pittsburgh Steelers select a quarterback at any point during the 2021 NFL Draft? If they do, it shouldn’t impact the offseason roster status of quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who signed a one-year deal with the team earlier in the offseason not long after he was cut by the Washington Football Team. On Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about Haskins during the team’s pre-draft press conference as part of him answering a question about whether or not the team is open to drafting a quarterback this year.
“It’s exciting from a coaching perspective with one of those guys [quarterbacks] being a 22-year-old guy like Dwayne Haskins who was viewed globally as having first-round talent just a short time ago,” Tomlin said of the former first round draft pick out of Ohio State. “We’re excited about working with him and seeing what his skill set and hoping him improve is as well.”
Haskins’ NFL career to date obviously hasn’t gone the way as many believed it would so far, after being selected 15th overall by Washington in the 2019 NFL Draft. Washington released Haskins on Dec. 28, less than 24 hours after he committed three turnovers in a loss to the Panthers and he was found in violation of pandemic protocols after being caught partying with several people without a mask. Washington fined Haskins for that incident and stripped him of his captaincy.
Haskins struggled with Washington during the 2020 season, completing just 61% of his passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his 16 career NFL starts, Haskins has just 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. He had 2,804 passing yards and a 3-10 record as a starter. In a word, he was awful.
“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can dig your way back out of it,” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said on Dec. 28 after the team released Haskins. “I hope he learns from these experiences. Hopefully, they’ll make him stronger, and they’ll help him and, hopefully, when he gets his next opportunity, he’ll make the best of it.”
The Steelers likely won’t get to work much with Haskins on the field prior to training camp getting underway, especially if OTA sessions are boycotted. Whenever Haskins does get on the practice field for the Steelers, he’ll begin competing against quarterback Joshua Dobbs for the right to be the team’s third signal caller in 2021. That assumes the Steelers don’t draft another quarterback this coming weekend.
Tomlin and Haskins have the same agent and that likely played some part in him signing with the Steelers this offseason. He does have draft pedigree, and that’s yet another reason why the Steelers signed him off the street.
The Steelers quarterback situation for the 2022 season looks very cloudy right now. While starter Ben Roethlisberger is technically the only one of the four quarterbacks currently under contract for the 2022 season, his remaining four years void five days after the Super Bowl. Haskins, assuming he sticks throughout the 2021 season, becomes a restricted free agent in 2022, and thus Pittsburgh can retain him via an original round tender should they deem him worthy to keep.
In closing, Haskins was a low-risk signing by the Steelers this offseason with the potential of bringing a high reward. He has a golden opportunity to be with the Steelers for several more seasons to come, and potentially even be the team’s starter in 2022 or beyond if he can turn the corner and start performing like a first-round quarterback should perform.