The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback landscape—among many other things—changed in an instant along a Florida highway not too long ago, when 24-year-old quarterback Dwayne Haskins was struck and killed, apparently as he was returning home from training with teammates and new quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
The team signed Trubisky this offseason to a two-year deal with a base value of $14.25 million that could rise to $27 million through incentives. Behind him is only Mason Rudolph, now, or rather, alongside him, with Haskins’ tragic accident.
As painful as it is, however, there are practical decisions to be made, and the reality is that the Steelers will have to add two more quarterbacks to their offseason roster before training camp. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests, reasonably, that the likelihood is one will come through the draft next week, while the other will probably be a veteran free agent.
He even offered a name of a veteran he believes may be the most sensible of those available—citing aside from his choice Mike Glennon, A.J. McCarron, Cam Newton, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He passes over these names in favor of one of Rudolph’s draft classmates, Josh Rosen.
“He is 25 and, above all else, has the pedigree [head coach Mike] Tomlin seems to seek in outside free agents — he’s a former first-round draft choice”, Dulac notes. “After all, that’s part of the reason Tomlin signed Haskins and another former first-round quarterback, Paxton Lynch, in 2019”.
Of course, Lynch didn’t look very good in his Michigan Panthers debut in the USFL yesterday, completing two of five pass attempts for all of one yard. He threw an interception and fumbled the ball on a short scramble, one of four carries for 14 yards. It was Shea Patterson, a former 2020 undrafted free agent, who helped them win.
The Steelers signed Lynch, drafted 26th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, a couple of games into the 2019 season after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury. Having already traded Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, they promoted undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges to the 53-man roster as the backup to Rudolph, adding Lynch to the practice squad as a third arm, who barely practiced all year.
As for Rosen, he was the 10th pick in the 2018 draft, and was traded by the Arizona Cardinals after just one year to the Miami Dolphins, who then tried to trade him in 2020 before releasing him. He spent some time on the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man roster at the end of that year following a rash of injuries and COVID-19 cases.
Most recently, Rosen served as the backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons last season behind Matt Ryan, signed in late August after McCarron was injured. He attempted 11 passes during the season, completing only two for 19 yards. He remarkably threw two interceptions.
Of course, anybody the Steelers sign as a veteran free agent, assuming that they do draft a quarterback, would be coming in most likely to fulfill that fourth-arm role. Bringing in Rosen, or any other veteran free agent, wouldn’t really give any indication of where the quarterback position is overall.