The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Dwayne Haskins
Experience: 3 Years
It increasingly sounds like Ben Roethlisberger was privately telling everybody throughout the year in 2021 that it was going to be his last season. While it didn’t come as a surprise to anybody, it does make you wonder if it was clearly communicated to Dwayne Haskins when he first signed as a Reserve/Future free agent.
Back then, of course, it wasn’t even established that he would be back on the team in 2021, because that happened in very early January. The front office gave some hard talk about the plunging salary cap and how Roethlisberger’s deal had to make sense in order for him to play out the season.
He did, of course, and Haskins only dressed for one game when Roethlisberger was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. He ‘lost’ a competition in training camp, if there really ever even was one, to Mason Rudolph for the backup job, and was inactive for 17 games, including the postseason. He figures to be offered an original-round restricted free agent tender shortly, which he has no option really but to sign, since nobody is going to give up a first-round pick to sign him to an offer sheet.
So what is next for Haskins? Ostensibly, he is in the mix to start in 2022, perhaps one of the reasons he chose to sign with the Steelers (having claimed that he had other offers elsewhere). Rudolph is the frontrunner amongst in-house options, but I would imagine that he does believe in himself and believes that he can win the job.
Of course, the odds are good that they add at least one strong outside quarterback, either a veteran or a rookie, to come in and at least compete to start, if not very obviously be the starter. The good news is that restricted free agent tenders are not guaranteed at all, even after signing, until the start of the regular season, so if he doesn’t make the team, they will not be out any money or cap space for it.