Steelers To Pass On Justin Fields’ Fifth-Year Option

We heard in March it was highly unlikely the Steelers would exercise the fifth-year option on Justin Fields‘ rookie contract. With the option deadline coming in just more than a week, Pittsburgh indeed appears to have no plans of committing to guaranteed Fields money in 2025.

The Steelers are expected to decline an option that would pay Fields $25.7MM fully guaranteed next year,’s Adam Schefter tweets. Teams have until May 2 to exercise or decline options; this has loomed as one of the more predictable option calls for a bit now.

Fields’ value around the league turned out to be far lower than many expected, as the Bears ended up settling for a conditional sixth-round pick for a player who has proven electric as a runner but inconsistent as a passer through three seasons. Still, the Steelers made it clear upon acquiring Fields, 25, they expect him to begin the season as a backup to Russell Wilson. Mike Tomlin has since pried the door open for competition, but as of now, the trade acquisition is on track to go from three-year Chicago starter to Pittsburgh backup.

Both Wilson and Fields, when the option is officially declined, will be going into contract years in 2024. The former signed for the veteran minimum, barely cutting into the record-setting dead money sum the Broncos face. Fields is under contract for $1.62MM this season. Because Fields never made a Pro Bowl but qualified as a full-time player under the option formula, his option number checked in on Tier 3 of the four-tiered structure that came about when the 2020 CBA ushered in fully guaranteed options.

While the Steelers have both Wilson and Fields in contract years, a March report suggested the team is considering keeping both players beyond 2024. This would be a highly unlikely scenario to pull off, given the starting histories each player brings. Neither would stand to be interested in being an assured backup in 2025. This makes a potential 2024 trade worth monitoring; the Steelers have Kyle Allen in place as their third-stringer presently.

With the team not planning to adjust a negotiating policy that mandates no in-season contract talks, Wilson and Fields will be set to play out their current deals. The Steelers are interested in revisiting Wilson’s pact, for now at least, in 2025. It will be interesting to see how Fields factors into this equation, seeing as he is 10 years younger than Wilson, who will turn 36 this season.

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