Proposed Blockbuster QB Trade ‘Immediately Changes’ Steelers: Analyst

Kenny Pickett Justin Fields

Getty ESPN's Mike Tannenbaum and Dan Graziano argued why the Pittsburgh Steelers should trade a second-round pick for quarterback Justin Fields.

Rumors that Justin Fields could come to the Pittsburgh Steelers through a trade have heated up since ESPN’s Adam Schefter called Mike Tomlin a “big fan” of the Chicago Bears quarterback on February 12.

On February 16, two members of ESPN’s Get Up panel added fuel to that fire, further connecting the Steelers to Fields.

Former NFL general manager and ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum argued that the Steelers are an ideal fit for Fields. Tannenbaum also suggested Fields would be a significant upgrade over Kenny Pickett.

“If you look at their new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and all the success he had as an offensive coordinator in Tennessee with Ryan Tannehill, a big, strong athletic quarterback,” Tannenbaum said on February 16. “I think Justin Fields, that really comps very, very well. And you look at those skilled players that Pittsburgh has around what Justin Fields would have, it would be much better than whatever he had in Chicago.

“If I’m Pittsburgh with Mike Tomlin, with that defense, you have a brand new offensive coordinator. Gosh, if you can get Justin Fields, that changes Pittsburgh immediately.”

ESPN’s Dan Graziano agreed with Tannenbaum that the Steelers are an ideal fit for Fields. Graziano proposed the possibility of Pittsburgh acquiring Fields for a second-round pick.

“Maybe if they can get multiple teams interested, they can get a little bit more,” Graziano said. “But I think if they can get a [second-rounder] for him, then that would probably work or a package built around that depending on where in the second round the pick would land.”

The Steelers have the No. 51 overall pick, which is the 19th selection in the second round.

Why the Steelers Could Trade for Justin Fields

Some fans are likely to take issue with Tannenbaum comparing Fields to Ryan Tannehill. Furthermore, there remains strong Pickett support among Steelers players and some fans.

However, the general consensus, particularly in the media, is that Fields would be an upgrade.

Fields is a dynamic athlete with dual-threat capabilities. Pairing that with the Steelers running game is a fun hypothetical.

“I think Arthur Smith is creative and would build around the strong running game they already have,” Graziano added on February 16’s Get Up episode. “Fields as a running quarterback would augment that.

“Then you have receivers that can be reliable and can be explosive.”

Fields has averaged 6.2 yards per carry in his career. He’s also posted 7 yards per pass with 54 total touchdowns (40 in the air and 14 on the ground).

To Tannenbaum’s point, Fields has accomplished the stat line without much offensive support. He led the Bears with 657 rushing yards in 2023.

Although he developed a nice rapport with receiver D.J. Moore last season, the Bears have had only one other receiver with more than 500 receiving yards over Fields’ three seasons in Chicago.

In 2024, the Steelers could support Fields with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren and Pat Freiermuth. On paper, Pittsburgh also features a better offensive line than Chicago.

Why a Fields Trade Doesn’t Make Sense for the Steelers

Again, the Steelers acquiring Fields is a fun hypothetical. That’s why rumors he could come to Pittsburgh are swirling.

On February 15, DraftKings listed the Steelers as the team with the best odds to start Fields next season.

But in reality, a Fields-Steelers trade still feels unlikely to happen. Monetary reasons are the main reason why.

While Fields will have a cap hit just a little over $6 million for 2024, his team will have to decide in May whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option.

“What most people still have yet to realize is that if the Steelers do wind up trading for Justin Fields, they will need to turn around and pick up the 5th year option for $21.978M fully guaranteed in 2025,” Steelers Depot’s X (formerly Twitter) account posted. “That also means he’s automatically the starter in 2024 and there is no competition. Married to him for two seasons.”

Even if the trade compensation is a second-round pick and not a first, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly argued that’s too much money and draft capital for Fields.

“A high draft pick AND $25 million guaranteed for Fields before he plays one snap for you,” Kaboly wrote on X. “Not quite sure about that.”

For that price, Fields has to be a major upgrade over Pickett. Quite frankly, the jury is still out on whether that’s the case.

While Fields offers more upside than Pickett, Fields has thrown 30 interceptions and recorded 38 fumbles in 40 NFL games. Incredibly, he’s been sacked 135 times.

Pickett’s best attribute has been his ball security, which is why he is 14-10 as a starter despite pedestrian statistics. Pickett had just 4 turnovers in 12 games last season.

Fields is also 10-28 as an NFL starter.

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