While nothing has been made official, the Pittsburgh Steelers are operating under the assumption that Ben Roethlisberger has played his final down for the organization. During his end-of-the-year press conference, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that all options are on the table as it relates to Roethlisberger's immediate successor.
Tomlin said that he expects Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins to be among the quarterbacks who will get a chance to compete to be the team's next starting quarterback. Haskins, who confirmed on Wednesday he has been told he will get a chance to compete for the job, is hoping to make a strong case to be Pittsburgh's next starting quarterback.
"Being a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers would be a dream," Haskins said, via 93.7 The Fan. "I have a lot of respect for the black and gold. I want to me able to show [Tomlin] that I want this bad. I can be a leader and someone they can rely on, on and off the field."
Haskins believes that he can be a starting quarterback at the NFL level. He said that he benefitted by getting a chance to share a quarterback room with Roethlisberger during his final season.
"I have the talent with the best of them, I just haven't put it together yet," Haskins said.
Rudolph, who has a 5-4-1 record as the Steelers' starting quarterback, said the opportunity to finally compete to be Pittsburgh's starting quarterback is a "great, great feeling." The 2022 season will be Rudolph's fifth in Pittsburgh since getting drafted out of Oklahoma State.
"All I want is a chance to compete and be the guy here," Rudolph said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It seems like that's more of a real possibility than ever."
Rudolph's erratic play has not endeared himself to fans, but Roethlisberger feels that an open quarterback competition may bring out the best in his former understudy. Rudolph acknowledged that he will feel more free to step into a leadership role now that Roethlisberger is gone.
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"Knowing that I can be a bit more, maybe I can be a bit more myself as being the leader as I have always been at the quarterback position and not worry about stepping on the toes of a longtime Hall of Fame player," Rudolph said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.
After making eight starts in 2020, Rudolph made just two starts during the last two seasons. He said that he has rewatched his snaps from the 2019 season, when he went 5-3 as a starter while helping the Steelers secure a 16th-consecutive non-losing season.
"There are mistakes that make me laugh because I know I wouldn't make them today," Rudolph said of his 2019 season. "Until you prove yourself, there are going to be question marks."
Tomlin acknowledged on Tuesday that mobility is something he values in a quarterback. Haskins said that he can provide a similar mobility to what Roethlisberger brought to the table earlier in this career. While he was never considered a "mobile" quarterback, Roethlisberger was lauded for being able to extend plays by getting outside of the pocket while helping the Steelers win three AFC titles and two Super Bowls. Haskins said that be was able to showcase his mobility this season during practice while mimicking the upcoming opposing quarterback.
"I think the keys to defining quarterback mobility is a person that can extend plays," he said, via Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review. "Not necessarily a Lamar Jackson-type ... but a guy that can get a first down, be able to move around in the pocket, make a guy miss. Kind of the way that young Ben was ... [he] was like a Josh Allen-type, early on in his career. That's something that I feel like can add another dynamic to this offense."
Haskins said that his mobility can complement the types of things offensive coordinator Matt Canada will likely integrate into the offense in 2022.
After being released after less than two seasons in Washington, Haskins was signed by the Steelers last January. He had his moments during the preseason but was unable to beat out Rudolph as Roethlisberger's primary backup. Haskins will try to win his second -- and far more significant position battle -- with Rudolph in 2022.
"I love Mason," Haskins said. "I think he has a great chance to be the guy here too. He has great respect in the building. We bring the best out of each other."