Monday marked the deadline for NFL clubs to officially pick up their options on 2019 first-rounders. Fifth-year option seasons are no longer just guaranteed for injury — they’re now fully guaranteed, which makes these decisions a little tougher for teams.
Nineteen players had their options exercised, a tick up from 14 last year. Here’s the full rundown:
Dwayne Haskins was tragically killed Saturday morning after being hit by a car in South Florida, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Haskins was set to turn 25 on May 3.
The Steelers quarterback was struck by a dump truck while walking westbound on Highway I-595 and was killed while trying to cross lanes, according to the Florida Highway Patrol (via Fox Sports 640’s Andy Slater, on Twitter). Haskins was pronounced dead at the scene.
Haskins had a standout sophomore season at Ohio State, setting a number of school records after completing 70 percent of his passes for 4,831 yards and a whopping 50 touchdowns. That performance earned him a number of accolades, including first team All-Big Ten honors, the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year award, and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award. Haskins was also named the 2018 Big Ten Football Championship Game MVP and the 2019 Rose Bowl MVP.
The quarterback naturally rocketed up draft lists, and he was ultimately selected by Washington with the 15th-overall pick in the 2019 draft. Expectations were high for Haskins; he was even granted permission to wear the (unofficially) retired jersey number of legend Joe Theismann. Despite the fanfare, head coach Jay Gruden decided to roll with Case Keenum as his starting quarterback heading into the 2019 campaign. Haskins eventually found his way into the lineup, starting seven of his nine appearances. Washington went 2-5 in his seven starts, with the QB completing 58.6 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns vs. seven interceptions.
Haskins entered the 2020 season as the starter and a team captain, but he was benched prior to Week 5 for poor play. He found himself back in the lineup late in the season, but that wasn’t enough to save his career in Washington. Haskins was cut by the team before the end of the regular season.
Haskins caught on with the Steelers in 2021, and he didn’t get into a game while serving as the third QB. Pittsburgh placed an original-round restricted free agent tender on Haskins this offseason, and the expectation was that he’d get an extended look alongside Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers head coach MikeTomlin said in a statement. “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.”
Haskins was in South Florida working out with Steelers quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, per Schefter (on Twitter). That group included Trubisky and running back Najee Harris, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (on Twitter).
We at PFR offer our thoughts and condolences to Haskins’ family and friends.
While the Steelers are in the market for a new starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger‘s two backups from 2021 are both under contract. Pittsburgh gave Dwayne Haskins a restricted free agent tender Friday.
The Steelers placed an original-round tender on Haskins, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed tweets. Although the original-round tender sits third on the RFA salary hierarchy — behind first- and second-round tenders — it does effectively ensure Haskins will be a Steeler going into training camp. A team would have to give up a first-round pick to poach him, since Haskins was a first-round pick three years ago. The Ohio State product will be tied to a $2.54MM salary in 2022, barring an extension.
Haskins and Mason Rudolph‘s deals now run through the 2022 season, giving the team options — or depth, at least — under center. (Rudolph is set to earn $3MM in base salary next season.) The Steelers took a flier on Haskins following his quick Washington exit, and last season became a developmental year. After starting 13 games with Washington from 2019-20, the former high-end prospect did not play in 2021.
February 21st, 2022 at 12:54pm CST by Adam La Rose
When speaking to the media on Monday, outgoing Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert provided an update on a number of topics, beginning with his personal plans. As Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter), he is unlikely to completely retire once his successor is named.
Specifically, Colbert said, “I may or may not have a role” with the franchise after his contract expires following the draft. Dulac adds that the 65-year-old made his intention to step down clear last May, noting that “it was time from a personal standpoint, it was time from a professional standpoint”. ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tweets that Colbert is helping with the search for the new GM, which is primarily taking place before March 1st because teams can block candidates from interviewing after that date.
With regards to the top offseason priority in Pittsburgh – the search for a new starting quarterback – Colbert repeated the team’s public support of Mason Rudolph. “We have confidence that Mason, if we started today, would be our starter and we’re excited to see where that can go”, he said (Twitter link via Dulac). Rudolph holds a record of 5-4-1 as a starter after being a third round pick in 2018.
Here are some other Steelers notes, including more on the QB situation:
Colbert made it clear that the team, as expected, will place an RFA tender on Dwayne Haskins. That will leave the Steelers with two incumbent signal callers, but Colbert said “we know we’re going to add to the position” in the offseason, adding that “we will go to camp with four” (Twitter link via Pryor). He didn’t specify what avenue the team could take to acquire other options, but they are expected to be active in any regard.
Dulac tweets that Colbert acknowledged the unusually flexible position the team is in with regards to cap space, though he stressed that they traditionally don’t spend as much as other teams on the open market. He did, however, seem to “leave [the] door open to spend” this March.
Pryor reports that the Steelers are open to retaining defensive tackle Stephon Tuittfor next year, the final one on his current contract (Twitter link). The 28-year-old missed the entire 2021 season with a knee injury, and is scheduled to have a cap hit of just under $14MM next year. He has 34.5 sacks in seven seasons, all with the Steelers.
Finally, Pryor tweets that Pittsburgh has yet to decide whether or not they will pick up linebacker Devin Bush‘s fifth year option. “I think Devin Bush will be a better player in 2022”, Colbert said, referring to his recovery from a torn ACL. It had previously been reported that the team wasn’t picking up the option, but doing so would leave a significant hole in the middle of the team’s defense.
The Steelers have told QB Dwayne Haskins that they will be placing a restricted free agent tender on him, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter). This jibes with a report from last week indicating that both Haskins and Mason Rudolphwould be retained and given the chance to compete for the starting QB job in Year 1 of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
Haskins, of course, was a first-round pick of Washington in 2019, a selection that was not endorsed by then-HC Jay Gruden but that was reportedly pushed by owner Dan Snyder and then-team president Bruce Allen. In 13 total games with WFT, Haskins failed to impress, and his on-field struggles were exacerbated by poor off-field decision-making. A particularly rough outing in Week 16 of the 2020 season triggered his release, and he hooked on with Pittsburgh in January 2021.
Though Haskins did not see any regular season action in the 2021 campaign, he made a favorable impression on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Pittsburgh is not expected to acquire an elite veteran QB this offseason, and while a trade for a player like Jimmy Garoppolo or signing an FA like Teddy Bridgewater probably can’t be ruled out, Haskins and his cannon of a right arm would seem to have a good chance to take over as QB1 if the only competition is Rudolph and a rookie passer.
Plus, as a rare first-round pick who becomes a restricted free agent, Haskins can be retained fairly cheaply. The Steelers can put the original-round tender on him for about $2.5MM — roughly half of the first-round tender — but because Haskins’ original round is, in fact, the first round, any other team that wants to sign him would have to give up a first-round choice to Pittsburgh to do so.
That obviously is not going to happen, so Haskins will remain with the Steelers with a real chance to start living up to his vast potential.
Longtime Steelers GM Kevin Colbert will soon be stepping down, but not until after the 2022 draft. So he will be tasked with setting the team’s course at quarterback in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, and his modus operandi would suggest that a major splash is not in the cards.
Indeed, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears from sources close to Colbert that Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins will be retained and will be given the chance to compete for the starting quarterback job. Rudolph is under contract through 2022, and while Haskins is eligible for restricted free agency, he has apparently made a favorable impression on head coach Mike Tomlin and can likely be brought back with a minimal commitment.
Beyond those two, acquiring a player like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or any other veteran QB who might be available on the trade market should not be expected. In his 22 years atop the Steelers’ personnel department, Colbert has only traded a first-round pick for a player one time, when he acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins in September 2019.
Instead, adding a collegiate passer in the first round of the draft and allowing him to compete with Rudolph and Haskins is likely to be how Colbert elects to move forward. Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett has been mocked to the Steelers by a number of outlets, and the fact that the pro team shares a facility with the university makes it easier for Colbert & Co. to evaluate the Heisman candidate.
Rapoport says Pittsburgh is interested in Pickett, but with his stock seemingly on the rise, and with the Steelers not picking any higher than No. 19 depending on how far they advance in the playoffs, they might not have a shot at the local kid absent a trade-up. And Colbert has only traded up in the first round three times in his tenure.
After 18 years in the National Football League, it’s sounding more and more likely that the 2021-22 season will be Ben Roethlisberger‘s last. Over the last few years, Pittsburgh has taken stabs at potential replacements for Roethlisberger, usually utilizing late-round draft picks in hopes of molding a young prospect into a starter. But Roethlisberger potentially putting an end to his career when the season concludes places a lot more pressure on the Steelers to come up with a solution.
The easiest solution is to use the materials you already have. Pittsburgh currently has two quarterbacks on the active roster behind Big Ben and one on the injured reserve. Former first round pick Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, currently on IR, both have contracts that expire at the end of the season, but it’s easier to have contract discussions with players already in the building than not.
Mason Rudolph is the team’s current primary backup. Rudolph beat out Dobbs for the second quarterback job and took over as the team’s starter in 2019 when Roethlisberger was ruled out for the season after an elbow surgery. Rudolph went 5-3 as the Steelers’ starter before getting benched for Devlin Hodges after struggling against a winless Bengals team. He completed 62% of his passes for 1,765 yards and threw 13 touchdowns to 9 interceptions on the year. Before the 2021 season, Rudolph signed a one-year extension, pushing his free agency back until after the 2022 season. Rudolph has appeared in one game this year, filling in as Roethlisberger was held out with COVID-19. In a game that resulted in a tie with the winless Lions, Rudolph completed 30 out of 50 pass attempts for 242 yards, throwing 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Haskins was taken in the 2019 NFL Draft with the 15th overall pick by the Washington Football Team. He saw some game time for Washington in two games in the first 8 weeks of his rookie year, but earned his first start in Week 9 after the season’s original starter, Case Keenum, could not play with a concussion. Haskins took over the offense for every game but one for the rest of the season as he missed Week 17 with an ankle injury. Haskins retained the starting job to begin the 2020 season, but was benched in a Week 5 game against the Rams. He returned to the field when new starter Alex Smith left the game in Week 14 with an injury. Haskins started the next two games before being benched once again, this time for Taylor Heinicke. Haskins was released the next day due to some controversies with breaking COVID-19 protocols and not meeting the team’s standards off the field. In two years of play, Haskins completed 60% of his passes for 2,804 yards, throwing 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
There are plenty of different directions Pittsburgh could go to replace Roethlisberger should this be his final season. While they haven’t quite proven to be world-beaters, Rudolph and Haskins do provide the Steelers with workable options that are already in the building. If the Steelers decide that they don’t think they can win a Super Bowl with the talent currently in their QB room, they’ll be sure to explore some options via free agency, trade, and the 2022 NFL Draft.
If the likes of Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, or Liberty’s Malik Willis don’t pique the Steelers’ interest, Pittsburgh may look into a short-term free agent rental as they have in the past with quarterbacks Michael Vick and Bruce Gradkowski. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Teddy Bridgewater are some of the bigger names set to hit the market this offseason that could delay the Steelers’ need to draft a quarterback until some more attractive prospects potentially surface in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh could also trade, as they did for Dobbs, with a number of quarterbacks rumored to be available for a price. Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson is obviously the most available option, due to a league investigation that could result in disciplinary action. 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been rumored to be available due to the expected emergence of 2021’s No. 3 overall draft pick, Trey Lance. Garoppolo is not known to be flashy, but has still accomplished a 30-13 record as a starter in the NFL. Two other veterans that have shown a little frustration with their current squads and may be open to a trade are Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
While Steelers’ management is certainly preoccupied right now with making the playoffs in a wild AFC, they will have much to consider when the season comes to an end. Whoever ends up under center for the Steelers in Week 1 of the 2022-23 NFL season, it will certainly be a change of pace for the franchise if the jersey doesn’t have fourteen letters across the top.
The Buccaneers announced that five individuals would be joining the organization via the The Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship: TraiEssex, La’Roi Glover, AndreKing, HeatherMarini, and Louis Murphy Jr.. These coaches will be allowed to “observe, participate, [and] gain experience” throughout training camp and the preseason, and the experience could ultimately lead to a job offer.
Marini made a name for herself this past season at Brown University as the QB coach, making her the first female position coach in Division I history. Marini previously served as an offensive quality control coach with the Bears, and she served as a scout on Todd Bowles’ staff with the Jets.
Essex and Grover had distinguished careers in the NFL. Grover made six Pro Bowls and was a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team while Essex won a pair of Super Bowls with the Steelers (while playing under current Bucs head coach Bruce Arians). King also has experience playing under Arians, with the two having spent four seasons together in Cleveland.
Murphy Jr. has the best connection to the Buccaneers after spending a few years playing for the organization. The receiver had 41 receptions for 578 yards during his two seasons in Tampa Bay, and that was part of a nine-year career that saw him collecting 2,589 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. He most recently served as a high school head coach in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Some more notes from around the NFL:
Jordan Matthews is set to audition for teams as a tight end, and at least one squad will have interest in the veteran. Paul Kuharsky reports (via Twitter) that the Titans are expected to kick the tires on the veteran. Tennessee could use some extra depth at the position after losing Jonnu Smith, but suitors shouldn’t expect too much from Matthews. The 28-year-old has appeared in only five games since the 2019 season, and it’s been four years since he last topped 800 receiving yards.
Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins was involved in a dispute earlier this month that resulted in his wife facing a domestic violence charge, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskin is accused of punching Haskins in the mouth, leading to a “felony charge of battery and domestic violence resulting in bodily harm.” Haskins reportedly had a split upper lift and a lost tooth, but the quarterback disputed that today on Instagram. “I appreciate the concern… however I have all of my teeth,” Haskins wrote (via Pryor). “Don’t believe everything you read. Peace.”
“We are aware of the situation but will have no comment,” the organization said in response to ESPN’s inquiry. Haskins inked a one-year deal with Pittsburgh earlier this offseason, and he’ll be competing with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs to be Ben Roethlisberger‘s primary backup.
Earlier tonight, we posted a poll asking which head coach will be the first to lose his job. Bears head coach MattNagy and Broncos head coach VicFangio are neck-and-neck for the lead.
Jay Gruden is currently unattached, with the Jaguars hiring Urban Meyer last month. Darrell Bevell is the team’s new offensive coordinator. Gruden, who coached Washington from 2014-19, remains interested in returning to the sidelines.
However, the longtime NFL play-caller does not expect to coach this season. Gruden, 53, said, with staffs having mostly filled up over the past few weeks, he will likely sit out in 2021 before reassessing his options, Ben Standig of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
Gruden made some noise recently when he made a candid remark about Washington owner Daniel Snyder‘s draft involvement. The six-year Washington HC indicated the team’s owner “would come in off his yacht and make the pick” after Washington’s coaching staff and front office prepared for the draft. Gruden expanded on that assessment.
“Well, first and foremost, he is the owner. So if he wants to come off his yacht, or if he wants to come off his tennis court, wherever he’s at and make a pick, he has that right,” Gruden said. “(Dan) has the ultimate say, and that’s not going to change until he decides he wants to change.
“So I guess he’s given up total responsibility and total power to coach (Ron) Rivera, which is a good thing, I think. But when I was there, that wasn’t the case. He had final say over everything. He and (former team president) Bruce Allen would talk about it, and they would make the decision. I signed up for that. I knew that was the case going in, and that’s just the way it was.”
Like Gruden, Allen is no longer with the franchise. Snyder dismissed the 10-year team president after the 2019 season. But the Snyder-Allen-Gruden power trio was in place for nearly six seasons. The last of those, a 3-13 season that involved Gruden being fired after an 0-5 start, transpired after a controversial draft.
It has been long reported Gruden was against drafting Dwayne Haskins, a Snyder- and Allen-driven move. Gruden said one of the team’s plans involved taking Montez Sweat at No. 15; Washington later traded back into Round 1 and drafted the edge defender at No. 26. Gruden also mentioned being high on safety Darnell Savage, whom the Packers drafted at No. 21 overall.
“We knew we needed a quarterback, though. I mean, so at the end of the day, it’s not like Dwayne was not a good prospect. He’s a young football player with a lot of talent. So it’s not the end of the world we took Dwayne,” Gruden said, via Standig. “We just didn’t think we had to take him that high. It’s just what we thought … if we lost Dwayne that there were a couple of other ones later we might be able to get to come in and maybe compete with Case. Plus there was still hope in the back of our minds that Alex would come back.”
Coming off a 50-touchdown pass 2018 season at Ohio State, Haskins was viewed as a surefire first-round pick. The Giants were connected to him at No. 6 overall, though they surprised most by drafting Daniel Jones. Haskins fell to No. 15, becoming the third quarterback off the 2019 board. Some in Washington’s organization were believed to have placed a third-round grade on the quarterback.
Gruden said during the interview Haskins “wasn’t quite ready” when a Case Keenum injury first summoned him into action in Week 4 of the ’19 season. The organization quickly soured on the quarterback, benching him early in the 2020 season and putting him on the trade block. The Rivera-led regime waived Haskins in December of last year.
Snyder overruled Washington football-side brass on other occasions, Gruden said. Washington now has Rivera, Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney atop running football ops.
“For the most part, I’d say 85-90% of the time, we were making pretty much football decisions that were good for the football team, and they were (decisions) that everybody agreed on. … The majority,” Gruden said. “But there were a few picks (during my time) that we had nothing to do with it.”
The currently unattached coach also discussed Kirk Cousins‘ exit. The Allen-led Cousins negotiations led to animosity, two franchise tags and the quarterback’s departure in free agency in 2018. Rather than a trade haul, Washington only received a third-round compensatory pick for its four-year QB starter.
“For the most part, I was given every opportunity to succeed there. We just didn’t get it done,” Gruden said. “There are some decisions there that I wish we could have had back. Obviously, we should have gotten more for Kirk Cousins. That’s the biggest thing, that I think we should have got more for Kirk Cousins than a third-round pick.”
The Steelers took a flier on quarterback Dwayne Haskins last week with an inexpensive one-year deal. His $850K contract includes no guaranteed money, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).
It’s a pretty big drop for the former first-round pick, though he’ll still be earning cash from his previous Washington deal. Ultimately, for Haskins, it’s an opportunity to learn from one of the best in the business in Ben Roethlisberger and rebuild his stock.
Haskins dazzled evaluators with his arm strength coming out of Ohio State. As a pro, he was a flop. In 2020 — his second year with WFT — Haskins averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Head coach Ron Rivera released Haskins after his terrible Week 16 showing, putting him on the open market just two years after being selected No. 15 overall.
The Panthers also offered a deal to Haskins, which was also believed to be for the minimum. After Teddy Bridgewater‘s trying year in Carolina, that could have been a better opportunity for Haskins to get on the field. Then again, the Panthers could use this year’s No. 8 pick on a QB, pushing any free agent pickup to the bottom of the depth chart.