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You want the Steelers to think about a future without Ben Roethlisberger? Dwayne Haskins it is

The Steelers have signed quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round draft choice, to a one-year reserve/future contract. You know what that means? Not much. It’s no big deal. Stop fretting. You wanted the Steelers to think about a future without Ben Roethlisberger? It’s going to be like this until he retires—projects and mid-round draft choices.

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

“When are they going to start thinking about Ben’s replacement?” many fans have been asking since Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was about 30.

I’ve been trying to tell those fans that Pittsburgh will really begin to think about Roethlisberger’s heir apparent the moment he finally hangs up his cleats, but they just don’t want to believe me.

“They need to groom someone!” When has grooming ever worked? I know what you’re going to retort with: “Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes say, ‘What’s up?’”

My retort to that is, please. Those guys would have been great if they showed up to work on Day 1 and were named starting quarterbacks for their respective teams.

Unfortunately, despite the historical evidence that grooming someone for the quarterback position just doesn’t work—along with the lack of evidence that the Steelers will employ anyone even approaching Roethlisberger’s skills for the subsequent 20 years following his retirement—fans have been longing for the security of a true heir apparent.

Guess what? They’ve appeased those fans. First, it was Landry Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. A few years later, when it was decided that Jones was the worst backup quarterback in the history of the league, Pittsburgh selected Josh Dobbs in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A year later, the Steelers went “all in” and picked Mason “First-round Grade” Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sadly, none of those guys have been able to wow fans and give them an ironclad guarantee that the Steelers quarterback position will be in great hands after Roethlisberger’s career comes to a close.

But don’t despair, because it was announced on Thursday that Dwayne Haskins, the former first-round pick of the Washington Football Team, was inked to a reserve/future contract.

Or should I say, “Despair, do lots and lots of despairing”? Because his name is Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round pick from Ohio State, and not Hwayne Daskins, a former undrafted free agent from Toledo, people are going nuts...and not in a good way. No, they’re going nuts in a “FML, I can’t believe Haskins is going to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback for the next 16 years” kind of way.

Relax and take a chill pill. I realize Haskins hasn’t exactly been the model of consistency on the football field. I also realize he hasn’t exactly been a role model off the field, either, as his in-game selfies and trips to the strip club will attest. Fortunately for the Steelers and their fans, reserve/future contracts aren’t ironclad.

Signing Haskins is just the Steelers’ latest attempt to upgrade the backup quarterback position and/or find Roethlisberger’s replacement on the down-low. If it works, great! If it doesn’t work, oh well.

I know what you’re going to say next: “What about Haskins’s influence on a locker room culture that is already so toxic thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s logo dancing and Chase Claypool’s TikTok trash-talking?

Do you really think Dwayne Haskins will enter a locker room filled with guys named Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, David DeCastro, Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey (possibly—it’s still 50/50) and immediately become Mr. Culture?

Please.

Do you know what’s happening here? Your need for the Steelers to find that heir apparent at quarterback has got such a grip on you that you’re reading too much into things.

If I may sum it up, the Steelers really won’t try to find Roethlisberger’s replacement until he retires. In the meantime, they’ll keep drafting guys in the third or fourth round and signing former first-rounders to reserve/future contracts in the hopes they’ll beat the odds by developing a project.

But if the Dwayne Haskins deal is still a bit too much for you to handle, just refer to him as Hwayne Daskins.