There is a lot of speculation over what the signing of former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins “really” means for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Is it an indicator that Ben Roethlisberger is going to retire? Is Haskins being brought on board to goose Roethlisberger in that direction? Does it mean that Mason Rudolph is going to be traded or cut?
My guess is none of the above. In my view, this is nothing more than Paxton Lynch 2.0. Which is a weird thing for me to type since it’s hard to even acknowledge that Paxton Lynch actually ever existed as a Steeler in the first place.
He did. Trust me. I saw him on the practice fields.
It’s the same exercise with Haskins, though. They are simply bringing in another failed first-round quarterback with athletic upside and arm talent to see if they can discover what his first team did not.
And if they don’t, it’s just as easy to quietly allow Haskins to disappear on his one-year futures contract as it was to get rid of Lynch. I mean, I noticed Lynch’s departure even less than I noticed his arrival. Didn’t you?
Optimists about the move can call it low risk, high reward. One team’s castoff is another team’s treasure.
Yeah. OK. Maybe. I’m going a more conservative route. I call it low risk, low reward.
In an absolute best-case scenario, maybe Haskins proves to be a better backup than Mason Rudolph. Even though their numbers so far in the NFL don’t suggest that.
Rudolph has played in 15 games. Haskins in 16. Rudolph has more touchdowns, a better passer rating, fewer interceptions, a better completion percentage and fewer sacks than Haskins.
Plus, you have to consider why Washington got rid of a former first-round draft choice QB in just two years. Not only was it slow development. It was off-the-field stuff, too. Like violating covid-19 protocols by failing to wear a mask while partying after a game during the 2020 season. That act resulted in his captaincy being removed. He was also reportedly benched for poor practice habits and preparation.
Do the Steelers want that guy in their quarterback room during Roethlisberger’s last year?
Yeah. I don’t think so either.
Furthermore, I’d hate to see the Steelers pass on a potentially better option if they think one is available in free agency or the middle rounds of the draft just because they have Haskins in the mix now. Quarterback isn’t like most of the other positions. You can’t just assemble as many as you want and let them fight it out for playing time and spots on the depth chart.
At least not now with Roethlisberger still under contract.
But maybe that’s the mentality. Maybe that’s the thinking. Just hoard a batch of quarterbacks together so no one else can get them for the time being. Give yourself as much of an option for a succession plan as possible after Roethlisberger’s contract expires at the end of 2021.
Like when the Steelers added Tommy Maddox to the mix in 2001 with Kordell Stewart and Tee Martin. By early 2002, Maddox was starting.
Or whatever the franchise was trying to do in the 1980s with whatever combination they had in a given year of Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Bubby Brister, Scott Campbell, Todd Blackledge, Rick Strom and Steve Bono.
Woof! That’s quite a list. Maybe Lynch or Haskins would’ve had a shot to emerge as a starter from that group.
To me, that’s the most glaring indicator. Not so much that the Haskins signing is going to impact the Steelers in 2021. But starting in 2022, we may see the franchise wandering down that 1980s path of constantly throwing together a hodgepodge of quarterback mediocrity until they stumble onto the next capable full-time starter.
My hunch is Haskins’ role in Steelers history will be every bit of a footnote as most of the names in that bunch. And trying to read the tea leaves for some deeper impact of this signing is a fruitless endeavor.
Let’s just hope the Steelers don’t pass on someone who becomes another team’s treasure just because Haskins is here.
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