Pittsburgh Steelers sign former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins to futures deal

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins, a highly touted quarterback prospect not long ago, had a bad ending in Washington. Now he's looking for a new beginning with the Steelers.

Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 draft, signed a futures contract with the Steelers on Thursday.

Haskins was one of the top quarterback prospects coming out of college two years ago. The former Ohio State Buckeye was the third quarterback taken in the 2019 draft behind No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and No. 6 selection Daniel Jones.

His first two seasons in the NFL were filled with on-field struggles and off-field problems. In two seasons with Washington, Haskins was 3-10 as a starter and endured a midseason benching and an unceremonious release after a highly publicized indiscretion.

Haskins was Washington's starter for the first four games of the season, winning the season opener against Philadelphia before losing three straight. He was replaced by Kyle Allen in Week 5.

Haskins regained the starting job late in the season when Alex Smith was injured, but Washington lost both of the games he started.

Off-field issues: The 1-5 record aside, Washington did not release Haskins solely for his on-field performance. Head coach Ron Rivera stripped Haskins of his captaincy and fined him for a COVID-19 violation last month after a video surfaced of a maskless Haskins at his girlfriend's birthday party that included strippers.

The indiscretion took place after a loss to the Seahawks when Washington was in the midst of a tight race for the NFC East division crown.

After going unclaimed through waivers, Haskins became a free agent and was eligible to sign with any team. Haskins changed agents, signing with Cedric Saunders and Brian Levy of Goal Line, the same firm that represents Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Low-risk move for Steelers: Signing Haskins is a move with little risk for the Steelers. He won't count against the salary cap or the 53-man roster limit. Instead, he'll merely be one of 90 players on the offseason roster.

Tomlin has not been afraid to take on quarterback reclamation projects during his tenure as Steelers head coach.

Haskins is the third former first-round quarterback to be signed by the Steelers since Tomlin took over as head coach in 2007. Byron Leftwich, Michael Vick and Paxton Lynch all played as reserves; Leftwich and Vick behind Ben Roethlisberger and Lynch behind Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019 when Roethlisberger had season-ending elbow surgery.

It remains to be seen how Haskins fits in with the Steelers. Roethlisberger and Rudolph are entering the final years of their contracts and Haskins is the only other quarterback currently under contract. Josh Dobbs, who spent last season as the third-string quarterback, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Previous reclamation projects: Those previous reclamation projects provided a mixed bag of results for the Steelers. Leftwich only started one game for the Steelers over four seasons, but he was a valuable backup along with Charlie Batch on two teams that made it to the Super Bowl.

Vick started three games for the Steelers in 2015, his final season in the NFL. He was 2-1 as a starter when Roethlisberger was injured in the middle of the season. Those two wins helped the Steelers make the playoffs.

Lynch never got an opportunity to start or even dress for a game with the Steelers.

Other news: In addition to Haskins, the Steelers also signed tight ends Dax Raymond and Charles Jones and defensive back Stephen Denmark.

Also on Thursday, ESPN reported former Bengals head coach Hue Jackson interviewed with Tomlin for the vacant offensive coordinator position. Quarterbacks coach Matt Canada remains a candidate to fill that position.