Dwayne Haskins Joins Steelers. Could He Eventually Replace Big Ben?

Dwayne Haskins Joins Steelers: For both on- and off-field reasons, Haskins went from 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to unemployed for several weeks before the Pittsburgh Steelers scooped him up off the open market Jan. 21.

Dwayne Haskins Joins Steelers

For Pittsburgh — a team with annual Super Bowl expectations and a potentially retiring future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger – the move was a classic low-risk, potentially high-reward proposition.

The Steelers inked Haskins to a one-year, $850,000 contract that doesn’t include any guaranteed money, giving them an extremely cost-effective opportunity to evaluate a player that Washington just invested serious draft capital in a little under two years ago.

Ben Roethlisberger Replacement?

The question of whether Haskins’ stay in Pittsburgh lasts beyond 2021 could primarily hinge on Roethlisberger’s decision regarding his future.

Big Ben is only signed through next season, will be 39 in March, and dealt with injuries to both knees in 2020. However, if the sour taste of how the Black and Gold’s once-promising 2020 campaign finished serves as enough motivation to lure him back into the fold to play out his contract, Haskins’ chances of getting an extensive enough look from the coaching staff naturally diminish.

The factors that could play a significant role in how Haskins’ Steelers tenure unfolds isn’t just limited to the other occupants of the quarterback room, either.

Will New Offensive Coordinator Help?

After interviewing a pair of notable external candidates in Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton for their offensive coordinator position, the Steelers decided to instead promote Matt Canada, already in-house as last season’s quarterbacks coach.

Canada had no ties to the departed Randy Fichtner other than the one year they spent together in Pittsburgh last season. Therefore, it’s possible that any holdover quarterbacks will be more or less on even footing with Haskins in terms of having to learn new plays and terminology.

Canada brings his own system, one that he enjoyed plenty of success with at the college level right in the Steel City with Pitt. While serving as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2016, Canada led the Panthers to a school-record 42.0 points per game and a No. 1 ranking nationwide in red-zone touchdown percentage.

2021 Outlook

Therefore, Haskins could be stepping into an advantageous situation if Roethlisberger is out of the equation, and he has a chance to compete with holdover Mason Rudolph for the starting job. Canada’s scheme is known for a solid dose of misdirection and motion, and if his first two seasons are any indication, Haskins could benefit from a system that can deceive and out-scheme opponents until he gets a better handle on how to accurately and consistently read NFL coverages.

Canada did spend all last season working with Rudolph, so the latter would have an advantage in the form of an established rapport with the new play-caller. Nevertheless, Rudolph hasn’t proven to be anything beyond serviceable in his first two seasons, and Haskins’ skill set could certainly be enhanced if he has an opportunity to work with receivers the caliber of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington on an everyday basis.

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