Steelers Predicted to Start Season With Projected $283 Million QB Behind Center - Sport News

Steelers Predicted to Start Season With Projected $283 Million QB Behind Center

There appears to be no end to the rumors that quarterback Justin Fields could land with the Pittsburgh Steelers through a trade.

Mike Tomlin

ESPN’s Seth Walder projected on February 27 that Fields will be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback when the 2024 season begins.

“The Steelers’ next franchise quarterback is not currently on the roster,” Walder wrote. “Kenny Pickett hasn’t shown enough growth in two seasons, and even though Mason Rudolph played well in a few starts down the stretch, he hasn’t been consistent enough in his career to be a safe option going forward.

“That they managed 10 wins last season despite their weak QB group makes them a candidate to deal for Fields, who could be a decent fit with new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.”

Walder’s prediction came less than a week after ESPN’s Field Yates proposed the Steelers trade their No. 51 overall pick and a 2024 fourth-rounder to the Chicago Bears for Fields.

A 2021 first-round pick, Fields may not become a free agent until after the 2025 season because of his fifth-year option. But Spotrac already projected his market value to be $283.2 million on a six-year contract.

Steelers Trading for Justin Fields?

The Bears sending Fields to the Steelers for draft picks has been one of the most popular early rumors of the NFL offseason.

Fan Buzz’s Senior NFL insider Matt Lombardo first floated Pittsburgh as a potential destination for Fields on November 29. The rumor took off when ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated while appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on February 12 that head coach Mike Tomlin is a big fan of Fields.

Fields could be available through a trade because the Bears own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. NFL mock drafts have predicted Chicago to grab a new signal caller at No. 1 to replace Fields.

However, Bears general manager Ryan Poles expressed that the organization has yet to determine what they will do with Fields and the No. 1 pick.

“It just depends on what opportunities pop up,” Poles told the media at the NFL combine. “I will say this: If we go down that road, I wanna do right by Justin as well. No one wants to live in gray. I know that’s uncomfortable. I wouldn’t wanna be in that situation either.

“So we’ll gather the information. We’ll move as quickly as possible. We’re not gonna be in a rush. And (we’ll) see what presents itself and what’s best for the organization.”

Pundits have connected the Steelers to Fields because he possesses more upside than fellow former first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Fields has accounted for 54 touchdowns in 40 career games. He’s also averaged nearly as many yards per carry (6.2) as Pickett has through the air (6.3) in his career.

Although Walder also discussed Mason Rudolph, Pickett is the only quarterback Pittsburgh currently has under contract for 2024.

Why the Steelers Shouldn’t Trade for Fields

It’s a bit ironic that Walder clearly stated Pittsburgh’s next franchise quarterback is not currently on the team’s roster. Head coach Mike Tomlin said nearly the opposite during his postseason press conference on January 18.

Although the discussion wasn’t about the team’s franchise quarterback, Tomlin answered “yes” to a question that asked him if Pittsburgh’s 2024 starting signal caller was already on the team’s roster.

Steelers president Art Rooney II has also expressed confidence in Pickett this offseason.

“We still feel good about Kenny Pickett and his future but he knows he has to work hard to take the next step,” Rooney said on January 29, via Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola.

The Steelers have conveyed a desire to re-sign Rudolph as well. The confidence in Pickett and hope Rudolph will return were two reasons why The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac argued the Steelers won’t trade for Fields.

Dulac also contended that there are major concerns with Fields.

“What [the Steelers] liked about [Fields] (during the draft process) was his mobility and multidimensional skill set, which, at times, he displayed in three seasons with the Bears — 6,674 passing yards, 2,220 rushing yards, 40 passing touchdowns, 14 rushing touchdowns,” wrote Dulac.

“But what they don’t like — and, apparently, what the Bears no longer like — is that Fields is 10-28 as a starter, even after a disastrous rookie season when he was 2-8. He is 8-20 over the past two seasons despite having the league’s No. 1 rushing offense in 2022 and the No. 1 rush defense in 2023.”

Those concerns, though, have yet to slow down the Fields-Steelers rumors. It’s unlikely anything will until Fields becomes unavailable or the Steelers make a different quarterback move.

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