This offseason the Pittsburgh Steelers knew they would have to add some talent to their quarterback room. This could come in from different avenues, but one piece of the depth puzzle was added when the team decided to extend a Reserve/Future contract to Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins has been, and will likely continue to be, a giant question mark heading into the 2021 season. When it comes to the global Steelers fan base, most are either hot or cold on Haskins’ overall potential. Some think he could be just what the doctor ordered in Matt Canada’s offense, while others see a headache who is just another failed Ohio State quarterback.
So what kind of value does Haskins actually bring to the Steelers in 2021, and maybe beyond? This has been something I have been thinking a lot about recently, so I decided to do my own homework on Haskins.
Before I go any further, I want to be completely honest. I am no expert at the game of football. I don’t know the X’s and O’s as well as others, but I do trust my eyes and what I see when I watch.
If you are looking for a more in-depth breakdown of Haskins’ play, see our own CHISAP’s breakdowns, both parts, below:
With that out of the way, I went back and wanted to look at Haskins’ highlights from his first two seasons in the NFL. Yes, I am aware they are highlights, and not showing his gaffes and mistakes, but you can tell a lot by even watching the plays that went well.
Here are the highlights of Haskins’ rookie season in 2019-2020 (if the embedded video is blocked by the NFL, watch it by clicking HERE):
The one thing which stood out to me while watching the above video, was how often Haskins was bailed out by his receivers. Even some of the highlights showed the pass catcher making incredible adjustments on poorly thrown balls.
But not all was bad.
Haskins is tall in the pocket, and willing to stand up to pressure to make a play. His pocket mobility is evident and his arm is certainly strong enough to make the necessary throws at the NFL level. Fans should keep in mind he was a rookie in the above video, and how not many quarterbacks come into the league looking like a polished NFL professional.
Here are Haskins’ stats from his rookie season:
Games Started: 7
Completion %: 58.6
Yards Rushing: 101
Let’s take a look at his abbreviated 2020 season (if the embedded video is blocked by the NFL, you can watch it by clicking HERE):
The first thing which shows up in his Year 2 highlights is he looks a lot more comfortable within the system Washington is running. He knows where he is going with the ball, and looks like he could be a very good system quarterback, if in the right type of system.
It also becomes blatantly clear there aren’t many highlights, or games, in this film at all. A large reason for this was how poorly Haskins played at times. When it rained, it poured, for Haskins in 2020.
Here are Haskins’ stats in his second season:
Games Started: 6
Completion %: 61.4
Yards Rushing: 46
Rushing TD: 1
This brings us to the off-field issues Haskins has faced while in the National Football League. After a promising rookie season, one where Washington felt they had found their quarterback of the future, Haskins left new head coach Ron Rivera no choice but to bench him and part ways.
Just read the following few paragraphs from Hogs Haven, SB Nation’s Washington site, on Haskins leading up to, and following, his benching in 2020.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. continues to make his exit from Washington easier and easier for the team. He was stripped of his captaincy and fined $40k earlier this week after pictures of him partying maskless with what appeared to be strippers at his girlfriend’s birthday party. The team was hoping that Alex Smith could play this week so they didn’t have to start Haskins, but Smith’s calf wasn’t ready and he sat again.
Rivera seemed to think Haskins would give the team the best chance to beat the Panthers today and clinch the NFC East. He was wrong, and Haskins was absolutely horrible today. He lost a fumble and threw two interceptions and had an 8.5 QB rating before being benched. Rivera also waited too long to pull the plug on a QB that just wasn’t getting it done. After the game he said he had hoped Haskins would have repeated his late game performance from last week when he was able to actually move the ball. After Haskins missed a wide open Cam Sims on a critical 4th and 2, Rivera had seen enough and pulled him for Taylor Heinicke.
After the game Haskins was under an obligation, as the starting QB, to speak to the media unless injured. He blew off the media and Washington’s PR department. Haskins left the building and the team was unable to get ahold of him to have him speak to reporters by phone. The team finally contacted him, and now he has agreed to speak from his house.
Many fans point to this as a reason why the Steelers should have stayed as far away from Haskins as possible. How he could be a poison to a locker room which is still being cleansed from the Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell fiascos.
But where did Haskins’ fall from grace come from? After all, it was just leading up to the 2020 season when Haskins was being praised for his work ethic and team-first approach to his sophomore season in the NFL. Let’s also not forget he was named a captain on the team for 2020.
In fact, this is what fans were saying about Haskins leading up to last season, this too from Hogs Haven:
We have all seen the reports, even from Haskins himself, claiming he has dedicated the offseason to getting into great shape. We have seen the pictures on social media showing a more svelte build. But, this by far is the most telling video we have seen to date.
Haskins looks to be in unbelievable shape. And this should have fans excited for a more athletic, mobile quarterback come fall - not to mention the cannon that is attached to his right arm!
While no one outside the Washington Football Team organization might know exactly what happened in 2020, a season which resulted in Haskins going from captain to being released, Haskins has a second chance with the Steelers. Even after visiting the Carolina Panthers as a free agent, who obviously passed on Haskins, it was the Steelers who signed Haskins to a Reserve/Future contract with zero guaranteed money involved.
Haskins took to his verified Twitter page to celebrate him signing the contract with his new organization.
So, what to make of all this? You have a quarterback which tremendous pedigree, starting experience and a vast amount of struggles to accompany that experience. For the Steelers, the decision made to bring in Haskins was as low risk as they come. If he doesn’t produce, show promise or is a pain off the field, they can cut him without owing him a dime.
But what if he pans out?
What if him being given a year behind Ben Roethlisberger in Matt Canada’s offense is just what Haskins needs to right the ship?
What if Canada’s style is the perfect system for Haskins to thrive?
Maybe that is optimistic, but when assessing the value Haskins brings to the Steelers you have a wide spectrum of possibilities. A value of absolutely nothing, and not even making the Steelers’ 53-man roster in 2021, all the way to being a potential future starter for the organization.
The Steelers likely don’t know what they have in Haskins yet either. Until he arrives for offseason workouts, if they even happen this offseason, Haskins will have to work on his craft remotely. Showing the discipline, and recognition, to make the most out of his second chance. When you boil down this scenario, you realize the pressure is solely on Haskins’ shoulders. How he handles that pressure will ultimately dictate his future in Pittsburgh, and likely as an NFL quarterback.