The expectation for any first-road quarterback is to become the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Even if the pick falls short of that, they normally get an extended leash to try and prove themselves on an NFL field. But there are exceptions and deviations from the mean for all groups, and among first-round quarterbacks, that is Dwayne Haskins.
Drafted 15th overall by the Washington Football Team in the 2019 NFL Draft, Haskins played just two seasons, 16 games, and 13 starts for the team before Washington released him. It’s a phenomenally short tenure for a first-round quarterback and something attached to Haskins for the rest of his career. Now in Pittsburgh, Haskins addressed that topic with the media at minicamp Thursday morning.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I was surprised. This is part of the business, it wasn’t necessarily the people that were brought in by the new coaching staff, understanding that this is a business and realizing that as the season went on that things weren’t going the way that we both wanted it to,” Haskins said. “Being able to be here now, we can work hard and be able to figure things out together. I’m just grateful for the opportunity Washington gave me, but it wasn’t completely surprising, but it was also definitely unfortunate to be released the way that I was.”
The Steelers signed Haskins to a reserve/future contract in late January, shortly after their elimination from the 2020 playoffs. In Pittsburgh, Haskins is competing with Joshua Dobbs for the third quarterback job behind Ben Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph.
It’s a different situation than the one Haskins inherited as a rookie in Washington. Considered a prospect in need of more developing than his other first-round QBs, Washington gave Haskins his first start in Week 9 as a rookie. He started the team’s next seven games, earning Washington two of its three wins for the season but finishing the year with a completion percentage below 60 and seven interceptions to match his seven touchdowns.
What people remember Haskins more for is his 2020 season. On the field, Haskins made six starts, winning one of them, completing just over 60 percent of his passes, and throwing another seven interceptions. Mid-season, Washington benched him in favor of Alex Smith, who completed his incredible comeback from a serious injury. Later in the year, Kyle Allen earned starts over Haskins, as well.
Off the field, Haskins continued to make headlines. The most well-known is a trip to the strip club late in the season, which violated COVID-19 safety protocols. But just before that one, Haskins earned some animosity within the locker room for bragging about his personal stats despite a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Haskins didn’t get the time he needed to mature and develop as a quarterback in Washington. Salvaging his career (and drawing rave reviews thus far), he is getting that chance in Pittsburgh.
“Situations are different, and environments that you get into when you get drafted isn’t always something that you can plan for, or be necessarily prepared for, especially coming out of Ohio State or coming out of any college,” Haskins said. “I tried the best that I could, and just didn’t work out the way that I wanted it to. But just grateful to be here in Pittsburgh and just thankful for the opportunity just to have another shot.”