By: Jonathan Clark
On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the signing of former 1st round pick, quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The signing may come as a shock to most fans, seeing as the Steelers usually aren’t so active in the free agency market. Even though it isn’t a monumental signing, and the reason for it has not been fully explained. With Ben Roethlisberger’s future up in the air and the only other active QB on the roster being Mason Rudolph, the signing could be nothing more than to add depth to the position. But it leaves the fans’ minds to wander.
Despite not getting much playing time throughout the year on gameday, Rudolph impressed in his lone 2020 start against the Cleveland Browns and showed much more confidence in the pocket than he did last year. It was a small sample size, I know, but after the game Rudolph received support from Roethlisberger. Head coach Mike Tomlin expressed the confidence they have with Mason as the backup quarterback. It’s obvious that Rudolph has talent; he just needs that to translate more on to the football field. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that not many people saw Haskins ending up in the Black & Gold.
It’s possible all of these thoughts are hypothetical; maybe they just wanted to add a third quarterback to the roster and the opportunity to sign a former 1st round pick with a ton of upside presented itself to them. But that’s no fun to talk about. So let’s speculate.
There may be reason to believe the Steelers have had interest in Haskins from the drop. He was a high first round pick, and due to the Steelers recent success in the regular season the opportunity for the Steelers to draft Haskins just wasn’t there. But now, Ben is due $41 million (if he returns); it’s probably be a safe bet to say he will be back on the roster for his final season. The Steelers could be looking more towards the future, giving Haskins a chance to prove himself to the Steelers’ coaches and players that he belongs in this league, and could prolong his career in the black and gold.
But consider this – the signing could be to light a fire under Rudolph, trying to get the best possible effort out of him that they can. Haskins was a 1st round pick just a year ago, and with that status comes expectations. Haskins does not have the broadest range of film for teams to judge how he will perform week in and week out. All we hear when it comes to him is the ceiling he has. Those same expectations didn’t follow Rudolph as much as Haskins, but Mason has the film for teams to get an eye on. The problem with that is that the tape is shaky, there’s ups and downs, and I don’t think the Steelers are 100% sold on Rudolph for the future.
The signing of Haskins is a low risk/high reward type of transaction that could benefit the organization more than the player. Bringing him in communicates to Rudolph not to get too comfortable, possibly sending a subtle message to the entire QB room. Who knows? Maybe this brings the absolute best out of Rudolph and he can prove to the organization (and the fans) that they should have full trust in him.
Who would you choose, Mason or Dwayne? Comment below!