It’s surprising news insofar as Haskins lasted less than two seasons with the team that drafted him, an extraordinarily short tenure for any player—much less a quarterback—drafted in the first round.
Dwayne Haskins Selected No. 15 Overall in 2019
Washington selected Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in 2019 after a single sparkling season at Ohio State, when he threw 50 touchdown passes against only eight interceptions and averaged more than nine yards per pass attempt.
That season he set 28 Ohio State records and added seven Big Ten Conference records, including single season passing yards (4,831) and total offensive yards (4,939). He also set a Big Ten record for most offensive player of the week awards (six), and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award as the best player in the Big Ten.
Dwayne Haskins’ Poor Decision-Making On and Off the Field
But Haskins didn’t fare well during his relatively short tenure in Washington. As a rookie he started seven games, posting a 2-5 record while completing just 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards. He threw just seven touchdown passes against seven interceptions for a passer rating of 76.1.
If anything, he was worse in his sophomore season, starting six of the seven games in which he appeared, winning only one of those starts and throwing five touchdown passes against seven interceptions for a passer rating of 73.0.
But it was his off-the-field struggles that perhaps present the greatest concern for any time thinking of signing him as a free agent. During the 2020 season he reportedly breached COVID-19 protocols on two different occasions. The latter incident took place just a week before he was waived, when he was photographed—maskless—at an event with strippers. The team fined him $40,000 and stripped him of his captaincy before cutting him.
More notably, still, his work ethic has come in question, with ESPN staff writer John Keim noting that Washington’s “coaches did not like how he was preparing during the week, saying it fell way short of the standards for an NFL quarterback,” and that “coaches said they were concerned with how hard it was for them to get him to prepare the way they wanted.”
It’s worth noting, though, that Haskins has seemed contrite about what happened in Washington.
After getting waived he sent a tweet, saying, “I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of a NFL QB & will become a better man & player because of this experience.”
He subsequently cleared waivers and became a free agent. He has reportedly already met with the Carolina Panthers, in addition to the Steelers.
If signed by Pittsburgh, it would probably be to a Reserve/Futures contract.
The Tommy Maddox Precedent
For what it’s worth, the Steelers once had a fair bit of success with a first-round reclamation project. Quarterback Tommy Maddox failed miserably in the NFL after being a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos (No. 25 overall) in 1992. He washed out of the league in four years after getting a shot with four teams—Denver, the Los Angeles Rams, the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons.
Pittsburgh signed Maddox to be its fourth-string quarterback in 2001 after he was MVP of the XFL in 2001 and led the Los Angeles Xtreme to an XLF Championship. He quickly ascended to the point where he became the starter, only to be replaced after the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. Maddox won NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2002.
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