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Are Steelers Alone in Failing to Develop QBs? Cam Newton Sees NFL-Wide Problem

The Steelers failing to develop Kenny Pickett into a starting quarterback is the latest in an NFL-wide trend.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett at practice on Dec. 28, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

After a tumultuous three-year tenure with the Chicago Bears that featured two head coaches and three offensive coordinators, quarterback Justin Fields will finally be in a stable situation with Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll also get the chance to learn from nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson.

With at least four other teams interested, Fields made it clear that he wanted to be traded to the Steelers, and the Bears did right by him.

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton recently touched on Fields’ situation and how he was traded out of Chicago. The Bears are expected to draft USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall.

“Justin Fields is finding out firsthand that this is a business, and unfortunately (it) hasn’t been in his favor,” Newton said on his podcast 4th & 1. “And it wasn’t up to him to be traded. It was a collision course, it was about to be a train wreck. Hell, his experience there was a train wreck.”

Multiple teammates have stated that they wanted Fields to stay in Chicago. Bears tight end Cole Kmet revealed that he skipped partaking in St. Patrick’s Day festivities Saturday after learning from head coach Matt Eberflus that Chicago had traded Fields to the Steelers.

“I was planning to hit the city and go out, but then I got a call from Flus and the people with the Bears, and decided to stay in after the news with Justin,” Kmet said on the CHGO Bears Podcast, via the New York Post.

“Obviously, really upsetting that it came to that, and where it was at that moment, but you kind of felt like the writing was on the wall with that.”

Newton feels like team’s have little patience with quarterbacks anymore. If there’s no signs of potential in 2-3 years, team’s are looking for a replacement.

“Not just the Chicago Bears, but a lot of organizations are feeling the heat. And you really only got two to potentially three years to show you’re good, because the NFL has changed. We’re not allowing players to develop anymore. We’re trying to sell jerseys, we’re trying to win football games, and we’re trying to win a  Super Bowl … yesterday,” Newton said. “So, I don’t give a damn about developing. You got to already come in able to compartmentalize personal versus professional. “Professional manage a locker room where you are now thrust into a CEO role where you have to manage the owner, off the field, general manager, head coach, position coach and players. And for Caleb Williams, that’s a tall task. That’s a tall order. That’s not to say he can’t do it, but he must understand what he’s getting himself into.”

J.J. Watt had a similar stance to Newton when discussing Kenny Pickett’s departure from the Steelers in a one-on-one interview with Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports. Watt mentioned that it’s a win-now world.

“I’m sure he is frustrated,” Watt said of Pickett. “I’m sure he feels like he never got the full proper opportunity to show (his potential) and develop, which is a thing that’s happening in this league. We are not giving guys time to develop, grow and fight through adversity and come out the other side, because it’s such a win-now world that we live in.

“So, I don’t blame him at all for wanting an opportunity to compete somewhere or go somewhere and try something new. When you bring in a guy and say he’s automatically the starter and you don’t even get a chance, I get it. I completely understand his side. But at the same time, I don’t blame the Steelers at all. When an opportunity presents itself like that, a minimum contract for a guy that’s won a Super Bowl, you’ve got to take it.”