Steelers Sign Former First-Round QB, 2 Tight Ends

Dwayne Haskins

Rob Carr/Getty Images Quarterback Dwayne Haskins of the Washington Football Team drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens on October 04, 2020.

On Thursday morning reports emerged that the Pittsburgh Steelers were meeting with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round pick of the Washington Football Team.

Hours later Pittsburgh announced that it had signed Haskins to a Reserve/Future contract, along with three other players.

Dwayne Haskins a First-Round Pick in 2019

Washington selected Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in 2019 after he was a one-year wonder at Ohio State. In 2018 he passed for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns versus only eight interceptions, good enough for him to finish third in the Heisman Trophy race that season.

Still, his coaches were somewhat surprised that he declared for the NFL draft, as he had little playing experience apart from that one campaign. He finished his college career with 5,396 passing yards, along with 54 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Haskins has had precious little success in the NFL, completing 267 of 444 pass attempts for 2,804 yards (with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions) over the course of two seasons. To be sure, he has an exceptionally strong arm, but as noted in the above-linked article, there have been major questions about his work ethic and off-the-field decision making, both of which contributed to Washington’s decision to waive him.

Steelers Add Two Tight Ends

Meanwhile, the Steelers signed two tight ends on Thursday, both of whom have spent time with the club in the recent past.

One of the two is Charles Jones, who was added to the team’s practice squad in mid-November after Vance McDonald was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Jones, who is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, played collegiately at Tulane and entered the NFL in 2019, signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. Jones was with the team until just a few days ago, when his practice squad contract was allowed to expire (along with that of fourth-string quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges, placekicker Matthew Wright and several others).

The other tight end in question is Dax Raymond—a former teammate of Packers QB Jordan Love at Utah State—who was originally signed by the Steelers in July 2020. The Steelers waived him (injured) during training camp to make room for tight end Kyle Markway. He was signed to Green Bay’s practice squad in November 2020.

Defensive Back Stephen Denmark

As for the fourth player signed by the Steelers on Thursday, that would be defensive back Stephen Denmark, 24, who was a seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2019 (No. 238 overall) out of Valdosta State.

Denmark—6-foot-2 and 217 pounds—was on Chicago’s practice squad during the 2019 season and for the first five weeks of the 2020 season. It’s not clear whether the Steelers plan to try him at safety, or whether they see him as big cornerback, a la Justin Layne, who just finished his second season with the Steelers.

While Denmark was with the Bears he was coached by former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend.

Denmark played wide receiver at Valdosta State until his senior year, when he made the transition to defensive back. He finished his college career with 30 catches for 348 yards and three touchdowns. As a senior he recorded 55 tackles (37 solo), with eight tackles for loss, 12 passes defensed, one sack, one forced fumble and three interceptions.

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