Steelers Will Not Change In-Season Negotiating Policy For Justin Fields, Russell Wilson

Arranging an unusual but intriguing quarterback setup by signing Russell Wilson for the veteran minimum and trading a Day 3 pick for Justin Fields, the Steelers have since expressed interest in keeping both QBs beyond the 2024 season. As unrealistic as that may be, the Steelers could have some negotiating to do in the not-too-distant future.

The Steelers have exclusive negotiating rights with Wilson and Fields until March 2025, but the team’s policy with regards to extension talks would not allow it to take advantage of many of these months that could be used to discuss a deal. While many teams negotiate with players during the season, the Steelers do not. Despite the QB talks that could be set to commence to keep one of their passers beyond 2024, the Steelers are not deviating from their policy.

I think regardless of position, I don’t think those certain policies like that one are going to change,” GM Omar Khan said (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly).

Khan was not with the organization when it implemented this policy, with the change coming back in 1994. That marked the salary cap’s debut and it came after some drama — brought on from in-season contract talks — emerged during free agency’s 1993 debut. The Steelers did deals with Rod Woodson and running back Barry Foster in-season in 1993, with Kaboly adding other extension candidates expressed frustration to create tension in the locker room.

The Steelers regularly extend players during the summer, with Alex Highsmith, Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt being recent examples. They also reached a deal with Antonio Brown shortly after the 2017 season, as one year remained on the All-Pro’s second Steelers contract, and re-signed Cameron Sutton to keep him off the market just before the 2021 free agency period. If Wilson or Fields is to be extended, a deal will need to come in one of these windows — almost definitely the latter.

Wilson, 35, has first dibs on Pittsburgh’s starting job, with Mike Tomlin stopping short of guaranteeing the veteran will be under center in Week 1. Though, it is clear Wilson is the favorite. Rumors about another Wilson contract have come out, but the Steelers are planning to see how the veteran quarterback looks in Arthur Smith‘s system before doing another deal. While a midseason extension would make sense, that will not happen. The parties would need to huddle up after the season ends.

The team is not picking up Fields’ fifth-year option, but it views the ex-Chicago starter as a multiyear option. Unless Wilson is out of the picture in 2025, it would make little sense for Fields to recommit to the Steelers. Seeing Fields, 25, usurping Wilson this season is not too difficult based on the former Pro Bowler’s uneven Broncos play. For now, he is on track to begin the season as a backup. Any changes to that would impact the 2021 first-rounder’s second contract, but Fields will almost definitely play out his rookie deal — before potential talks commence — this year.

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