The Steelers are keeping their quarterback options wide open.
With veteran signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh up in the air, the Steelers front office is “excited” to evaluate first-round flameout Dwayne Haskins, their newest addition to the QB depth chart.
“We’re excited to see what Dwayne can do with us,” general manager Kevin Colbert told Steelers.com on Wednesday. “It didn’t work out for him in Washington. We had high grades on Dwayne coming out of Ohio State. He got picked a lot higher than we were able to make that decision.”
The Washington Football Team released 23-year-old Haskins on Dec. 28 after selecting him No. 15 overall less than two years ago. The pick was viewed as a reach at the time, due in part to Haskins’ preexisting relationship with team owner Daniel Snyder. He posted a 60.1 completion percentage and passed for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions through 16 appearances across two seasons with Washington.
The Ohio State product’s release came amid ongoing friction with new head coach Ron Rivera, and was precipitated by criticisms of his character and maturity. Haskins had already been stripped of his captaincy and relegated to third-string quarterback after he was caught violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols at a maskless stripper party – his second violation of the season. He signed a one-year reserve/future contract with the Steelers on Jan. 21.
“[Haskins is] a young, talented quarterback that we’re anxious to see what he can do once he gets here and gets working with us,” Colbert said.
Colbert’s recent comments come in the wake of a lukewarm endorsement he gave regarding Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh.
“As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert told ESPN on Wednesday. “He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play. We told him we have to look at this current situation.”
Roethlisberger turns 39 in March and has spent all 17 of his NFL seasons as a member of the Steelers. The 2004 first-rounder is coming off of a season in which he was visibly slowed down by age and injuries down the stretch, however, which has damaged his viability as a starting quarterback. He started 15 of 16 games in 2020 and completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The team was eliminated in the Wild Card round by the Browns, due in part to a four-interception game by Roethlisberger.
Haskins joins Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph on the Steelers’ quarterback depth chart. Rudolph, 25, started eight games in 2019 with Roethlisberger out with a shoulder injury and got the start in Week 17 against the Browns, which the Steelers’ GM specifically noted.
“We have Mason Rudolph, and Mason did a real good job in that game he played and started against Cleveland in the [regular-season] finale,” Colbert said of the team’s 24-22 loss. “Came up a little short in giving us a win, but gave us a chance, and that was really important for him. It was important for us to see that.”