Now that we’ve said goodbye to all of the prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster from a year ago, it’s time to introduce ourselves to the new blood. Many of them, of course, are draft picks, but the team also ended up picking up numerous players via free agency, the majority of whom we’ll likely be seeing in-season at some point.
Roster turnover is an inevitability in the NFL, but the 2021 season marked greater change than normal. Some of those adjustments will be accounted for internally, but it will also require the supplementing of a number of new components, which we’ll be reintroducing ourselves to over the course of this series.
Now that we’ve gone through the draft picks, we’re going to circle back—as well as forward—and highlight all of the veteran free agents that the Steelers have added, even going back to as early as the season ended.
And that latter period of time may prove to be significant, depending upon what comes of quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Signed to a Reserve/Future contract at the end of the 2020 season following his release by the Washington Football Team, the Steelers saw it as a no-risk, high-reward opportunity.
We don’t know yet what the future holds, but Haskins’ early showing during training camp has been positive, likely the second-best arm on the field at this point in time behind the starter, Ben Roethlisberger. Not that it should be a shock.
Haskins was drafted in the first round for a reason. That doesn’t mean that he is going to work out, but it does indicate that he has talent. He also has starting experience, more than Mason Rudolph. He knows what he’s doing, but he hasn’t always put it all together.
There are questions about his game, particularly his accuracy and his ability to read a defense and make smart decisions based on what he sees. Those will be the two things to look at during the preseason, and you know he’s going to be under the microscope, not just in Pittsburgh, but around the NFL.
You see, there aren’t a lot of first-round quarterbacks who are let loose after two seasons. It’s true that everybody passed on him initially, as he cleared waivers, but that doesn’t mean that other teams won’t be watching and taking note of how he does.
The narrative is that he is potentially the Steelers’ quarterback of the future. There are several steps to take before we get there—starting with Roethlisberger actually being gone—but if they don’t end up drafting a quarterback in the first round in 2022, frankly, he is as likely a candidate as any to be in that position. The fact that he’ll only be a restricted free agent after this season helps.