PITTSBURGH (AP) – Dwayne Haskins will look to restart his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers signed a forward contract with the former Washington quarterback on Thursday, giving the 23-year-old a second chance after passing away in the nation’s capital in less than two seasons.
Haskins celebrated the signing by Tweet a photoshopped image of him wearing a # 3 Steelers jersey with the comment “3 in the Bible represents restoration and eternal life.” Let’s go to work. “
Work is something Haskins struggled with after Washington selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 Draft. Which was meant to be a homecoming for someone who grew up in the suburbs. town quickly turned into a forgettable chapter for Haskins and a franchise in a seemingly relentless search for stability beneath the center.
Haskins put on a patchy rookie season in 2019 after taking over the starting position halfway through. He rose to the top of the depths table in 2020 under new head coach Ron Rivera, but only kept it four games before being benched in favor of Kyle Allen. Allen and Alex Smith’s injuries brought Haskins back to the roster, but he has played poorly in his last three appearances and was benched amid a loss to Carolina on Dec. 27 after the have returned three times.
His problems, however, weren’t limited to what was happening on the pitch. He was fined $ 40,000 and lost his rank of captain for breaking COVID-19 rules by partying with several people without masks after a loss to Seattle on December 20. A little over a week later, he found himself looking for work after Washington released him in favor of journeyman Taylor Heinicke.
Haskins met Carolina earlier this month, then visited the Steelers on Thursday and left the building on a contract. Exactly what this means in the short and long term is uncertain.
Pittsburgh has posted a 12-4 record this season, but collapsed after an 11-0 start, losing five of its last six games, a fall that began with a loss to Washington on December 7 in which Haskins did not play. The faint ended in a 48-37 home rout to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, a fall that cost offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett their jobs.
The bigger question heading into 2021 is whether two-time Super Bowl-winner quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns for an 18th season. Coach Mike Tomlin said last week there was a chance Roethlisberger – who has a contract with a salary cap of over $ 41 million next year – could return. If he does, that means Haskins will likely end up starting as the third string behind Roethlisberger and substitute Mason Rudolph.
The Steelers have sometimes taken flyers from players before. They re-signed veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress towards the end of his career in 2012 and brought in quarterback Michael Vick as Roethlisberger’s replacement in 2015.
Haskins is at a different stage in his career than either of those players and will join a quarterback in the midst of a change. Quarterbacks coach Matt Canada will likely be promoted to replace Fichtner after just one season at Pittsburgh. Substitute Josh Dobbs is a free agent and Devlin “Duck” Hodges – a fan favorite after going from a rookie free player to an unlikely starter in 2019 – saw his contract expire earlier this week.
Rudolph played well while Roethlisberger made it to the regular season final against the Browns and got the first chance to replace Roethlisberger if Roethlisberger does not return.
Still, Haskins goes from a franchise where instability is a constant to one of the most stable of all professional sports. He will have every opportunity to try to rediscover some of the form he displayed in his senior year at Ohio State in 2018, when he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns against just eight interceptions.
Things were much more difficult in Washington. Haskins went 3-10 as a starter over two seasons, completed only 60% of his passes, and had 12 touchdowns on 14 interceptions.
That, however, came with the pressure of trying to be a franchise quarterback. The stakes are much lower with the Steelers, where Haskins will simply try to prove that he belongs in the league and that his maturity issues are behind him.