Ben Roethlisberger is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback. Everything behind him? That’ll be decided this summer. In an appearance on 93.7 The Fan with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey, GM Kevin Colbert left the backup pecking order open-ended.
“No spot is guaranteed,” Colbert told the show. “I know that Ben will be the starter. And then, Mason, Dwayne, and Josh, they’ll all fight it out and see who comes up.”
Mason Rudolph has served as the Steelers’ #2 quarterback for the past two seasons while Josh Dobbs was in that role for 2018. Dwayne Haskins was signed to a futures deal this winter after being released by Washington Football Team. That gives the Steelers some level of uncertainty over exactly who will be next man up. But those options also give Colbert a lot of comfort for football’s most important position.
“I’m very comfortable about having three or four veteran NFL quarterbacks. Three of which have started games in this league. So feel real good about a very critical position. It’s really gonna be exciting to watch those three fight it out behind Ben and then see where Ben is in 2021.”
Of those three, Haskins has the most starting experience. A former first round pick given the “franchise QB” label, he started 13 games for Washington in 2019 and 2020. The results though weren’t impressive, going 3-10 with more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (12). Off the field issues saw him stripped of his captaincy and the team pulled the plug in late December.
Haskins took a visit with Carolina before going to Pittsburgh and signing a contract. He’s under team control too, set to be a restricted free agent after the season. If the Steelers want to retain him, they can use an original round tender for the lowest RFA amount. Because Haskins was drafted in the first-round, any team who wanted to offer Haskins a contract would have to give up a first-round pick if they signed him. Translation, Haskins is safely on the Steelers’ roster through 2022 if the team chooses to keep him.
Rudolph has started nine career games, most coming in 2019 following Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow surgery. His play has also been a mixed bag though there’s been signs of improvement. His Week 17 performance against the Cleveland Browns this past season was the best start of his NFL career, throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns. One week ago, he signed a one-year extension through 2022.
Dobbs was brought back a few weeks ago on a one-year deal. He’s the only quarterback on the team without an official start and has thrown only 17 career passes. But he’s played well in the preseason and has mobility and ability to extend the play, a skill Haskins and Rudolph don’t have. That’ll give Dobbs an advantage in the preseason. He’ll have to work on accuracy, especially on short and medium routes, this summer. He’s consistently graded out as one of the least accurate QBs in our training camp charting.
Rudolph should enter this year as the heavy favorite to be the #2. But his spot isn’t guaranteed. Haskins has first-round talent and if he focuses, he could prove that ability again. And Dobbs has never been an easy guy to get rid of. Overall, Pittsburgh has arguably its strongest QB room in years and the team will let this summer decide who slots where.