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Justin Fields Still Sees Steelers Starting QB Job as an Open Competition

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Steelers Justin Fields

The Steelers quarterback room went through major renovations this offseason as they got rid of the three guys that occupied it last year and brought in three new ones for the 2024 season. One of the guys that they brought in was Justin Fields as they traded a conditional sixth-round pick for him.

While the team brought in Russell Wilson to presumably be the starter for the 2024 season, Fields ceiling is what attracted the Steelers. At just 25-years-old, Fields still has tons of untapped potential and is looking to reach that potential on the Steelers.

Multiple reports and statements throughout the offseason placed Wilson in the “pole position” in regard to the starting quarterback competition. As it looks, it is Wilson’s job to lose but Fields is not backing down. Instead, he is using the time behind Wilson as teach-tape to compete and get better.

“I’m definitely competing,” Fields told reporters at the team’s OTAs. “Russ knows that. We’re competing against each other every day. I definitely don’t have the mindset of just sitting all year. I’m coming in here every day giving it all I got and pushing him to be his best, and he’s pushing me to be my best every single day.”

Wilson and Fields obviously have never been on a team together but their history goes way back to when Fields was getting coaching tips from Wilson while he was in college. Now that he is in the same position room as Wilson, Fields is able to study how the Super Bowl winning quarterback goes about his everyday business.

“We’ve known each other for a good bit now, and the fact that I get to learn stuff from him and know that the things that he’s accomplished up to this point in his career has been great,” Fields said. “So I’m just learning little details, how he’s so meticulous and the way he pays attention to detail within every rep. That really just kind of makes me think like, you know, that’s what I should be doing each and every time so I’m glad to have him here and glad to be able to learn from him.”

Fields, and the rest of the quarterbacks, used the spring and summer practices to become acclimated to their new targets. With 11 receivers on the roster, Fields started to become more comfortable with his new receivers as OTAs went on.

“I think, you know, all of the receivers have been rotating in pretty good within all of our reps at quarterback so I think we are getting that connection,” Fields said. “Whether it’s routes on air, plays against the defense, I feel like I am getting a good amount of reps with everybody on the field to build that connection.”

Coming to Pittsburgh during an offseason where the team replaced their offensive coordinator allowed Fields to be on the same page as everybody else in regard to learning the new playbook. The former five-start recruit and first-round pick always picked up a playbook quickly and this one is no different.

“Not too difficult,” Fields said about learning the playbook. “Of course, there is a lot of same concepts it is just different terminology. There is some new stuff that I haven’t done before so just learning how to do that, learning how to create rhythm within the offense. … I am comfortable of course, I am not fully there yet but working each and everyday to get more comfortable.”

As he continues to learn the playbook and build connections with his teammates, Fields feels like he set a good foundation for himself during OTAs and is focused on building onto that foundation as the offseason continues.

“I think I definitely set a good foundation so just focused on getting better each and everyday,” Fields said. “That is the goal, just building that foundation.”

Fields is likely to start the season as Wilson’s backup but there is no guarantee that he rides the bench all season. Whether it is on special packages for Fields or if he has to replace an injured or struggling Wilson, it is highly likely that Fields sees some meaningful snaps in 2024.

2 • Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State
6-foot-3, 227 pounds, 25 years old, 4th Season

Acquired: The Steelers traded a sixth-round pick to the Chicago Bears for Justin Fields. That sixth-round pick will turn into a fourth-round pick if certain parameters are met during the 2024 season.

Last season: Justin Fields took a small step forward in 2023, his third year as Chicago’s starting quarterback. He threw 370 times, completing 227 for 2,562 yards and 16 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions and maintained an 86.3 passer rating and a 5.29 adjusted net yards per attempt.

While his passing numbers improved, his rushing numbers went down drastically. In 2023, Fields rushed 124 times for 657 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Justin Fields

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 9, 2021. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

CareerThe Chicago Bears selected Justin Fields with the 11th overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Fields started 10 games for the Bears. He completed 159 of 270 passing attempts for 1,870 yards. He did finish his rookie season with more interceptions (10) than touchdowns thrown (7).

In 2022, Fields was 192 of 318 for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, an 85.2 quarterback rating and 4.63 adjusted net yards per attempt. Where he made noise in 2022 was on the ground. He rushed the ball 160 times for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns. This resulted in Fields receiving MVP votes following the season. Additionally in 2022, Fields set the NFL record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 178 yards in a Week 9 game against the Dolphins.

Over his first three seasons, Fields played in 40 games and started 38 of them. So far, Fields has racked up 6,674 yards, 40 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. On the ground, Fields has rushed 356 times for 2,220 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Year GP GS CMP ATT CMP % YDS TD INT Rush ATT Rush YDS Rush TDs
2021 12 10 159 270 58.9 1,870 7 10 72 420 2
2022 15 15 192 318 60.4 2,242 17 11 160 1,143 8
2023 13 13 227 370 61.4 2,562 16 9 124 657 4

CollegeRated as the No. 2 overall recruit in 2018, Justin Fields committed to the University of Georgia. As a Bulldog, Fields was a backup and transferred after just one season. Fields won the starting job at Ohio State and had a historic year in 2019. In 14 starts, Fields threw for 3,273 yards and had 41 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. That ratio led the entire country in 2019.

Fields went 20-2 as a starter for the Buckeyes and guided them to back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances. His 63 passing touchdowns rank second in school history.

Year School GP CMP ATT CMP % YDS TD INT
2018 Georgia 12 27 39 69.2 328 4
2019 Ohio St. 14 238 354 67.2 3,273 41 3
2020 Ohio St. 8 158 225 70.2 2,100 22 6

Salary cap and future: After being traded to the Steelers, Justin Fields had his fifth-year option declined by the team making the 2024 season the last one on his current contract. In 2024, Fields will cost $3.23 million against the team’s cap space. It is all guaranteed.

While the team will likely extend Fields with a short-term deal, nothing has been reported as of yet in regard to a possible extension meaning those talks will happen after the season.

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