Latest On Steelers’ Quarterback Situation

Both the Steelers’ top two quarterbacks are in Pittsburgh after unusual separations from their previous teams. Jettisoned after a rocky Denver tenure, Russell Wilson counts for a record-shattering dead money figure on the Broncos’ payroll. The Bears-Panthers swap for the 2023 No. 1 pick created another No. 1 selection for Chicago after Carolina’s 2-15 season, leading to the Bears capitalizing via Caleb Williams this year.

After showing some progress down the stretch last season, Fields is still viewed as a clear backup to Wilson with the Steelers. The three-year Bears starter said he is not prepared to sit behind Wilson for the season’s entirety. Although the Steelers have given Wilson indications he will be the starter, Mike Tomlin has left the door ajar to a training camp competition.

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“I’m definitely competing,” Fields said, via’s Brooke Pryor. “I think Russ knows that we’re competing against each other every day. Him being out there for me, that helps me getting better, especially each other. I definitely don’t have the mindset of me just sitting all year.”

Turning 25 earlier this year, Fields is more than 10 years younger than Wilson. The 2021 first-round pick is certainly not as polished as a passer but offers a more dynamic presence by comparison, though Wilson did display more in the run game under Sean Payton than he did during a bizarrely ineffective season under Nathaniel Hackett. QBR placed Wilson two spots ahead of Fields last season (21st, 23rd), though passer rating gave a considerable edge to the then-Broncos starter. Wilson’s 26 passes and eight interceptions highlighted a bounce-back campaign — to a degree, at least — and an eighth-place finish in rating (compared to Fields’ 22nd).

As for the prospect of this becoming a straight-up competition come August, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly points to no such setup developing. Barring injury, Kaboly notes there is no chance Fields unseats Wilson to begin the season (subscription required).

This matches up with how the Steelers addressed the situation following the Fields trade. Wilson was told before the Kenny Pickett trade he would be the starter; that was among the reasons the 2022 first-rounder was dealt to the Eagles. This messaging continued following the Fields trade, with Tomlin contacting Wilson before the Steelers acquired the ex-Bears starter to ensure him the QB1 job would be his. The 18th-year Pittsburgh HC then brought up competition for the job, though it is still assumed Wilson is the clubhouse leader.

Despite Fields landing with a team that — as of now, at least — plans to sign off on a demotion, the dual-threat performer confirmed a previously reported notion he wanted to be traded to Pittsburgh. The Falcons, Raiders and Vikings were also on Fields’ list of acceptable destinations prior to free agency. Ryan Poles had said he wanted to do right by Fields, and while reports of the third-year Bears GM turning down a better offer to make sure Fields landed on his feet probably does not mean another proposal was significantly better, the new Steelers QB thanked his former GM for trading him to the Steelers.

Shoutout to Poles. We communicated to him through my agent, and I told him where I wanted to be and this was a place I wanted to be,” Fields said. “He honored that, and I appreciate him for that and glad he was able to put me in a spot where I wanted to be at.”

The Bears only received a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick for Fields; that choice could be bumped to a fourth if the former 1,000-yard rusher plays 51% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps this season.

The Steelers have expressed interest in having both Wilson and Fields back in 2025. It would be highly unlikely that comes to pass, as both players are on expiring contracts and each is accustomed to starting. A Wilson-Fields pecking order could change during the season, but months away from Week 1, the Steelers’ QB plan would only have them sending a sixth-rounder to the Bears.

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