For just the second time since 2003, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to find a starting quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger, the starter in the Steel City for the last two decades, has all but guaranteed he will retire this offseason at age 39.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will have to begin the process of finding a new starter at QB. His two preexisting options: Mason Rudolph, who Pittsburgh drafted in 2018 with the hope he’d eventually take over, and Dwayne Haskins.
Yes, Dwayne Haskins. That’s the same Dwayne Haskins who Washington drafted in the first round in 2019, hoping he would become the next franchise quarterback. The result was an all-out disappointment. Haskins went 3-10 as a starter and completed just 60.1% of his passes while throwing for 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
“They’re guys that started,” Tomlin said of Haskins and Rudolph. “I wouldn’t characterize them as everyday starters ... And so they’ll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there’s going to be competition.”
Haskins was released by WFT in December of 2020 and was picked up by Pittsburgh less than a month later. He has not yet suited up for Pittsburgh in the regular season. Haskins himself chimed in on the situation, confident in his ability to be a starting job in the NFL, be it in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
"I definitely feel like I can be a starter in this league,” Haskins said. “I was drafted to be that. I feel like I have the talent to be that. I just have to put my head down and keep working towards that."
Per Brian Batko of Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette, Haskins hasn’t yet had his exit interview with Tomlin. However, Haskins said Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert assured him he’d have an opportunity to compete for the starting role.
Tomlin has been the Steelers’ skipper for the last 15 seasons, so this is the first time he’ll have to make the all-important QB call. He gave one hint as to what he’s looking for.
“Man, quarterback mobility is valued not only by me, but everyone is just a component of today’s game and increasingly so,” Tomlin said.
Mobility isn’t one of Haskins’ calling cards, as the 24-year-old rushed for just 147 yards in 16 games in D.C. on 2.5 carries per game. His situational awareness would likely need some work, too, though his young age is a good sign that Haskins could make those developments.
Beyond his scouting report, there have been questions surrounding Haskins' attitude throughout his pro career. He violated COVID protocols and was caught partying after a loss in December in his last year in Washington. After landing in Pittsburgh, there were reports that he was checking his phone during warmups before a regular season game this past year.
"They're giving me a chance to compete, a chance to start," Haskins said. "That's all I could ask for."