Steelers Make Expected Final Decision on QB Justin Fields: Report

Justin Fields

Getty ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers "are not expected" to pick up the fifth-year option for quarterback Justin Fields.

General manager Omar Khan of the Pittsburgh Steelers expressed to the media on April 22 that the team is not focused on the fifth-year option decisions for Najee Harris and Justin Fields this week.

But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on April 24 that the Steelers have likely already made their choice with Fields.

“League sources do not expect the Steelers to pick up the $25 million fifth-year option on quarterback Justin Fields, who the team acquired last month for a conditional 2025 6th-round pick,” Schefter wrote. “Fields and Russell Wilson both now will be entering the last year of their contract.”

This isn’t an unexpected report. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac told Rich Eisen on his show on March 18 that the Steelers would not be picking up Fields’ option.

Fields’ fifth-year option would cost the Steelers $25.66 million for the 2025 season. The Steelers have to make their decision with Fields’ option official by May 2.

Steelers Not Expected to Pick Up Justin Fields Option: Report

Even before Dulac’s appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, it would have been a surprise to many Steelers fans to hear the team planned to pick up Fields’ fifth-year option. That’s because of the large expense the option is.

Although $25 million isn’t a huge amount for a franchise quarterback in the modern NFL, it’s not a typical salary for a backup signal caller. That’s what Fields is considered at the end of April.

At the NFL annual spring meeting in March, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Russell Wilson would start the offseason in the “pole position” to be the team’s starter.

Dulac tweeted on March 16 that Wilson and the Steelers “intend to do a longer deal” after the season. That likely assumes Wilson plays well during the 2024 season.

But if that happens, the Steelers won’t want to be tied to Fields for more than $25 million in 2025.

In 40 games for the Chicago Bears, Fields posted a 60.3% completion percentage and averaged 7 yards per pass. He also had 40 passing touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

As a runner, he averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns. He also had 38 fumbles.

With the Bears, he registered a 10-28 record as a starter.

Fields Could Still Be Part of Pittsburgh’s Future QB Plan

Just because the Steelers do not intend to pick up Fields’ option doesn’t mean he won’t be with the team beyond 2024.

Wilson is not guaranteed to start the entire season for the Steelers. If he doesn’t excel as he did in Seattle and the Steelers aren’t winning, then the team could make a quarterback change.

Wilson could also suffer an injury. He has missed games because of ailments in two of the last three seasons.

Should Fields receive an opportunity to play and perform well, the Steelers could sign him to a long-term extension next offseason.

The Steelers re-signing both Fields and Wilson is also seemingly not off the table either. Dulac argued the team could aim to extend Fields a contract extension before the 2024 regular season even begins.

“Fields is being viewed as a potential quarterback for the future with the Steelers, even though he was 10-28 as a starter in three seasons with the Bears,” wrote Dulac. “It is not their intention to bring him in merely as a backup for one season.”

Signing Fields to an extension after declining his option would give the Steelers some long-term stability. Without the fifth-year option, all three of Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks will be on 1-year deals in 2024.

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