Player: Joshua Dobbs
Experience: 5 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2021 Salary Cap Hit: $900,000
2021 Season Breakdown:
The Steelers re-signed Joshua Dobbs on a one-year contract in mid-April, shortly before the 2021 NFL Draft. This was with Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph already on the roster, and with Dwayne Haskins having been added on a Reserve/Future contract. Ostensibly, he was competing with Haskins for the third and final quarterback slot.
Whether or not they would have kept the loser on the practice squad became a moot point by the end of the preseason, as Dobbs suffered an injury, and the Steelers placed him on the Reserve/Injured List for the remainder of the season, allowing them to carry him without worrying about a roster spot.
Noted for his intelligence, the fifth-year veteran still remained active even though he had no chance of playing (he was placed on IR prior to cutdowns, meaning he was not eligible to be designated to return to play).
All of the other quarterbacks on the roster have talked about how Dobbs is always in their ear, trying to help out, to show them what he’s seeing, what tendencies he might note, what plays might work in a given situation. But that sounds more like a coach than a quarterback, of course.
Free Agency Outlook:
With Roethlisberger now retired, the Steelers have two quarterbacks who can reasonable be anticipated as definitely being under contract for 2022. Rudolph is already under contract after he signed a one-year extension last year. Haskins is a restricted free agent, who can be easily retained on an original-round tender, which would force any team trying to sign him to give up a first-round pick.
But they’re certainly going to go into the offseason with more than two quarterbacks. Still, the chances of Dobbs being one of them may not be incredibly high. The Steelers are clearly doing their homework on this draft class, for starters—literally for starters.
But there’s also a good chance that they add a veteran to the room, either as an outright starter or somebody who can compete with Rudolph for the starting job. If they sign a veteran, that makes it much less likely that they would look to keep Dobbs.
But the chances are Dobbs will be available whenever they might need him. If they go through the process and only add one quarterback, they could certainly conceivably circle back and re-sign him for a fourth arm in the offseason and as a valuable voice in the ear of their other quarterbacks—especially if one of them is a rookie. Who knows, maybe he winds up being a coaching intern. To state the obvious, if they consider any kind of deal for him, it would be at a minimum value.