Steelers Named ‘Wild Card’ in Potential QB Trade Sweepstakes

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers were called a potential landing spot for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett played one of the best games of his career in his first appearance under a new offensive coordinator. But that hasn’t stopped NFL pundits from linking the Pittsburgh Steelers to other quarterbacks. Fan Buzz’s Matt Lombardo connected the Steelers to Chicago Bears signal caller Justin Fields ahead of Week 13.

The Steelers were the last of four teams Lombardo named as a potential landing spot for Fields. Lombardo described Pittsburgh as “a bit of a wild card in any upcoming Justin Fields sweepstakes.”

“Much of Pittsburgh’s offensive identity is going to depend on the impending hire of Mike Tomlin as offensive coordinator,” Lombardo wrote. “But playing behind an improved offensive line from what he’s had in Chicago — with George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth to throw to along with bruising running backs Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris alongside him in the backfield — could be exactly what Fields needs in order to reach his star potential.”

In eight games this season, Fields has posted a 64.4% completion percentage. He also has 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions with a 7.1 yards per attempt average.

QB Kenny Pickett Faces Important Stretch to End 2023

Lombardo would have had an easier time convincing Steelers fans that the team should be involved in a potential Fields sweepstakes a week ago.

Fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada received a lot of blame for Pickett’s slow development through his first season and a half in the league. Based on Pickett’s first performance without Canada, that blame appeared very warranted.

In Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pickett threw for 278 yards, which is his most in a victory during his career. He also completed a season-high 72.7% of his passes and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt.

Pickett extended his interception-less streak to seven games as well.

If Pickett continues to play well under new offensive coordinator Eddie Faulker and play caller Mike Sullivan, the Steelers won’t be involved in any quarterback sweepstakes.

How QB Justin Fields Could Fit With the Steelers

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky joined Lombardo on November 29 in mentioning the Steelers and Fields together.

Orlovsky didn’t speculate that the Steelers could trade for Fields. However, he argued on X (formerly Twitter) that Fields is better than Pickett.

“I still watch Fields and think ‘play maker,’ Orlovsky posted on X.

“Yes I want him to play more settled and in structure and do the little QB things more and better, but just today alone he makes the Jets, Pats, Steelers, Raiders, Giants, Vikings, Falcons, Saints, Bucs better at QB position.

“I wouldn’t give up on him …”

Fields is certainly a play maker. Last season, he rushed for 1,143 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Although his yards per rush average is down this year, Fields is still accumulating 5.2 yards per carry. He has 39 total touchdowns since the start of the 2022 season. Pickett has 17.

But as Lombardo noted, for Fields to succeed, his team will have to build its entire offense around his playmaking ability. The Steelers are currently, and always have been, built around a traditional pocket passer.

It’s also not like that current construction isn’t working in terms of wins and losses for Pittsburgh. Pickett has left something to be desired on the stat sheet. But he is 14-9 as a starter, including 7-4 this season.

Pickett has 7 game-winning drives in just 24 NFL games. Fields only has 7 wins (7-26 record).

Orlovsky can argue all he wants that Fields makes the Steelers better at quarterback. But adding Fields will almost certainly make the team worse elsewhere.

It could take multiple draft picks for any team to acquire Fields this offseason.

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