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Steelers Analysis

Steelers Have Options When it Comes to Justin Fields Contract



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 will have until May 2 to make a decision on the fifth-year option for quarterback Justin Fields, now that they’ve acquired him in a trade from the Chicago Bears.

Fields will play under the final season of his rookie contract in Pittsburgh in 2024, and he’s set to earn $3.233 million in the upcoming year.

After that depends on what the Steelers and Omar Khan decide to do with his option. If the club declines it, Fields can become a free agent. If the Steelers pick it up, they’ll owe him $25.664 million fully guaranteed in 2025.

That’s a big chunk of change for a player that doesn’t even figure to start in 2024.

The Steelers have other options. They can roll the dice with Fields and let him become a free agent at the end of the year. If he doesn’t start in 2024, he will be unlikely to land a huge deal on the free agent open market, and the Steelers may be able to afford to re-sign him.

They also may not want to if Russell Wilson plays well enough. The Steelers may prefer to re-sign Wilson and go another route with their backup at that point. Not doing anything with Fields’ contract beyond 2024 this offseason preserves options for Khan next year.

They can also try to work out the same kind of deal the Green Bay Packers reached with Jordan Love. Ahead of Love’s first year as Green Bay’s starting quarterback in 2023, the Packers reached a deal on a one-year, incentive-laden contract extension that is worth up to $22.5 million.

The way that deal was structured, if Love played and played well, he’d earn nearly the entire option amount. If he didn’t play or didn’t play well, his salary wouldn’t be an obstacle to the team.

Such a move would likely be the best possible outcome for the Steelers, but it’s unclear what Fields will want after being traded for the first time in his career. Will he see Pittsburgh as a greener pasture, or will he be in a hurry to hit the free agent market and find somewhere that will want to commit to him long-term?

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