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Steelers Could Have One Significant Factor to Deter Justin Fields Trade

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have a tough time selling the trade for Justin Fields, largely due to his large fifth-year option and a possible extension.



Pittsburgh Steelers Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) plays against the Atlanta Falcons during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are amid rumors surrounding Justin Fields trade talks. And while the idea makes sense on the surface, some factors could likely stop it from happening. But more than anything, the fifth-year option that Fields would carry adds another layer of complication to the entire idea.

Fields is entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Bears — or another team, if he’s traded — must decide this offseason if they want to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. That would be a guaranteed $25 million contract for 2025. The Bears or another club could negotiate a traditional contract extension.

But if Spotrac is right on a future extension, the fifth-year option becomes even more questionable. In their projections, Fields would be eligible for a 6-year, $283 million extension following the end of his rookie contract. That’s a lot of money, but when Daniel Jones, for example, gets $40 million per year, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. And if a team wants Fields as the long term answer, having that flexibility is huge for building what they would hope becomes a Super Bowl contender.

Fields took a small step forward in 2023, his third year as Chicago’s starting quarterback. The 24-year-old Ohio State alum 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.

Last season, he 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. But if it’s up to him, he does not want to leave Chicago.

“Of course I want to stay,” Fields said on the St. Brown Brothers Podcast. “I can’t see myself playing in another place. If it was up to me, I would want to stay in Chicago. I love the city. The city’s lit. The fans are great. It’s a business; I ain’t got no control over it. The biggest thing with all this going on [is] I just want to it to be over. Let me know if I’m getting traded [or] let me know if I’m staying.”

Appearing on ESPN 1000, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport believes that not only will the Bears not move off the first overall pick, but that they can get a solid haul for Fields, whether that be from the Steelers or another team.

“I think the Bears could get a premium pick, a second-rounder, maybe more,” Rapoport said. “They’re in a really good spot getting so many picks no matter what they do.”

So, it seems likely that the cost will end up being at least a second-round pick to get Fields from the Bears, especially with other teams in the conversation. Rapoport answered ‘definitely’ that all of the Steelers, Falcons, and Raiders were teams to watch.