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Point-Counterpoint: The Steelers should invest in Dwayne Haskins

The Steelers signed a young, talented, and immature quarterback

Carolina Panthers v Washington Football Team Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced their signing of Former Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Thursday, a signing that is sure to be a polarizing one in Steeler Nation. While Haskins’ production and character are question marks, his talent isn’t. Should the Steelers treat Haskins like they did Paxton Lynch, or is he a player worth investing in?

Here with their takes on the signing are Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White.

The Steelers is the perfect place for Dwayne Haskins to land

Dwayne Haskins fits with the Steelers for many reasons. Let’s hit the easy ones first.

  1. The Steelers are looking for young talent to sit behind Ben Roethlisberger and fight for the chance to be his successor, Dwayne Haskins was a 1st round pick with athleticism and success at a premiere college program.
  2. He’s 23 years old. He came out after his sophomore season, if he had stayed in college he would be a senior this year.
  3. Dwayne Haskins isn’t going to be expensive, it’s a low cost deal.

Sounds like a no-brainer decision, talented young player for little cost, too good to be true?

There’s a reason when players with talent come cheap. In this case there are two main reasons. First, he hasn’t had much on-field success in the NFL. In 2020 the Washington Football Team won their division and made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. In the 6 games Dwayne Haskins played quarterback, they went 1-5, they went 6-4 without him. That followed a rookie season where he started 7 games, going 2-5, although in 2019 2-5 was a better record than the other quarterbacks the Football Team started.

The other problem is his behavior. Dwayne Haskins lost his spot on the Washington Football Team after pictures of him at a party without masks being worn surfaced, a clear violation of COVID-19 protocols, his second violation of the season.

Making a bone-headed decision like that, putting himself above the team, is something the Steelers have seen before. Ben Roethlisberger once injured himself riding a motorcycle without a helmet, and later put himself into unwise situations that resulted in accusations and suspensions for the Steelers’ franchise quarterback.

Which brings me to why I think Dwayne Haskins is in the right spot. He’s talented, but unrefined as a quarterback who needs to gain some maturity, and needs to learn humility, professionalism and how to be a leader on a team. I won’t compare his talent level to Ben Roethlisberger’s, he’s not Ben Roethlisberger. But Ben Roethlisberger was unrefined as a quarterback and needed to learn the same lessons. The Rooneys and Mike Tomlin were here for that process, they’ve gone through it before. If anyone can help Haskins get from where he is to where he should be with his talent, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But there’s an even better reason, and that is Ben Roethlisberger himself. The guy who made those bone-headed decisions, put his team in bad spots because of his selfish and unwise choices, and found a way to become a better player, leader, and from what we are able to see, a better person too. He’s been there, he’s done it, and now he will get the chance to mentor Haskins in much more than just throwing post routes.

Don’t get me wrong, the Steelers aren’t a rehab clinic, they aren’t therapists, if Dwayne Haskins isn’t ready to change, he won’t. The Steelers can’t make someone be a different person. It took Ben Roethlisberger a motorcycle crash, getting called out by multiple teammates and Steeler legends, and two suspensions before he was able to make meaningful change. I can’t tell you if Dwayne Haskins is there or not, but if he is? He’s in the right spot, and he would be the second most talented quarterback on the roster.

And I think the Steelers should go farther than just give him a one strike you are out deal, talent is worth taking a risk or two, and with Haskins’ potential and age, the Steelers should be looking longer term with the young man. Invest in the position, give the young man a chance to grow and become the quarterback his talent shows he could be.

— Geoffrey Benedict

Haskins is the last thing the Steelers need at this point

When the distinguished Geoffrey Benedict first approached me about writing the counterpoint of this article, I assumed he was already aware of my position on his acquisition. Any big name player with athletic talent and potential that becomes available for any reason automatically sets the BTSC comment boards ablaze with rabid fans wondering aloud if said player would be a good addition for the always looking for inexpensive talent Steelers.

The moment the reports started to surface that the talented, but troubled, Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins had been released, many fans fantasized about the former first round selection being picked up on the cheap and potentially replacing the aging Ben Roethlisberger one day down the road. I immediately shared my feelings on the matter with a hard NO to that idea. I based my decision on the Steelers recent track record on handling immature malcontents in the locker room. The results aren't good.

I knew Geoffrey and other members would want to compare Haskins situation to Ben Roethlisberger's transgressions in his early years, but the circumstances are far different upon closer inspection. Roethlisberger enjoyed immediate success in the NFL; the unmatched winning streak to start his career, followed up with a Super Bowl championship in his sophomore campaign. He was praised as the missing piece the Steelers franchise had been searching for since Terry Bradshaw's retirement, and was anointed with almost cult like status by the Steelers huge fan base. Roethlisberger's entitled attitude was the byproduct of believing his own press clippings and accolades from the adoring fans. We all like to believe we would be better in the same situation; but few, if any, can relate honestly. Humility could easily be lost along the way.

That is a huge concern with Haskins. There were multiple troubling reports out of Washington about attitude issues with Haskins. The word that most caught my attention was "entitled", and for obvious reasons. Problem is Haskins has accomplished precious little as a NFL QB. He never achieved rock star status from an adoring Washington fan base. Instead, he has never played up to his draft positioning and perpetually left the desperate fans disappointed and wanting more, but somehow his behavior led many in the Washington organization to consider him entitled. That's hard to believe and very concerning.

Roethlisberger had the benefit of a locker room full of veteran leadership, plus the incomparable Dan Rooney to provide him tough love and guidance. Sadly, individuals like Dan Rooney can never really be replaced. I question if the present Steelers organization has an individual who has earned that level of respect and admiration. I still love to hear stories about his father like status with former players. I don't believe it was a coincidence that the Steelers drama issues surfaced once he passed away.

I have to believe that the dramatic situations with former players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell would have been handled quite differently if Dan Rooney had still been around. Even this year's TikTok drama with JuJu Smith-Schuster could have been handled differently with a Hines Ward type leader in the room. Roethlisberger could serve as a mentor for Haskins, but apparently the well respected Alex Smith had little impact in that regard.

Thankfully, Roethlisberger was able to turn his life around through his faith and family, and hopefully Haskins will experience a similar turnaround. I feel much better about his signing after it was revealed as a futures contract. Small risk for a potentially huge reward. For both the Steelers and Haskins' sake, here's hoping for positive results.

— Shannon White