Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was just released by the Washington Football Team on Monday, but talking heads are already pontificating about his next team.
Wasting no time, NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms sees the Pittsburgh Steelers as a perfect destination for the young passer.
The former NFL quarterback l floated the idea of the Steelers signing Haskins on PFT Live on Tuesday. An idea with which host Mike Florio agreed.
“Hey Pittsburgh Steelers, what would it hurt to bring him in in the offseason?” Simms said.
Florio is intrigued by the idea as well, and believes Steelers culture and head coach Mike Tomlin are the necessary combination to get through to the troubled quarterback.
“One of the points of praise for Mike Tomlin with inside football is he has that ability to get through to guys,” Florio said. “Whatever it takes to get through to a guy and get him to perform, Tomlin knows how to handle those personalities and knows how to manage those personalities.”
A number of factors led to Washington’s release of Haskins, but the final straw came last week when he was photographed maskless at a strip club, in clear violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols and mid-pandemic common sense.
According to Florio, Tomlin is uniquely equipped to work with Haskins given his track record of juggling unique personalities, such as wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Florio all sees similarities between Haskins’ play style and that of current Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which he feels would allow Pittsburgh to continue its current philosophy on offense into the future.
“Some of the stuff we saw him doing behind the line of scrimmage, it’s kind of like Big Ben stuff,” Florio said. “Moving around, buying time, moving laterally, waiting for a guy to get open, getting rid of the football. Having that awareness, that presence, that ability to extend plays without taking off and running the ball.”
Simms concurred with Florio’s reasoning, but clarified that Haskins needs a situation where he can learn first, being groomed to start at a later date.
“Again, it’s not going to be something where you bring him to go ‘okay we need him as a backup right now,'” Simms said. “No you bring him in to be, ‘hey he’s a third-stringer that we think maybe by the end of the 2021 season could be the backup and maybe by 2022 or 2023 can be our starting quarterback.”
With Haskins clearing waivers and officially becoming a free agent Tuesday, he should come cheap if the Steelers were to pursue him this offseason. An opportunity Florio says is to good to pass up.
“If you can get this guy for peanuts and you can get him into your building and you can develop him to be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger, who they may need as soon as next year based upon how Roethlisberger has looked this year, you may be onto something there,” Florio said.
Simms and Florio are not the only ones considering the Steelers’ future at quarterback long term, as an anonymous team executive apparently told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Steelers should pursue New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
Selected with the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Haskins was shaky over two seasons in Washington. He threw for 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, while completing just over 60% of his passes.
Haskins was excellent in his final year as a Buckeyes, completing 70% of his passes for 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2018.
While his career is off to a rocky start, Haskins is only 23-years old with plenty of untapped potential.
The 38-year-old Roethlisberger, on the other hand, is in the twilight of his career 17 seasons in. The two-time Super Bowl champ has one year remaining on his current contract, which will produce a $41.25 million cap hit in 2021.
Regardless of the team’s plan and how their 2020 season ends, the Steelers would be wise to consider their quarterback plans post-Roethlisberger sooner rather than later.