REPORT: Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Shoots Down Russell Wilson As QB1; Give Plans For Justin Fields

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted at the team’s plan for quarterback Justin Fields, and it sounds much different than the mainstream narrative that the team is planning for Russell Wilson to be the Week 1 starter.

NFL Justin Fields Las Vegas Raiders Gardner Minshew Chicago Bears Pittsburgh Steelers

Russell Wilson was expected to be the Pittsburgh Steelers QB1

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Feb 18, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson looks on before the 73rd NBA All Star game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers traded the Chicago Bears a conditional sixth-round for Fields following a busy week of free agency. Tomlin assured Russell Wilson that the veteran quarterback would be the starter following reports of the trade that would bring Fields to Pittsburgh. The Steelers plan to extend Wilson next offseason if he succeeds in Pittsburgh during the 2024 season.Ezoic

Justin Fields is with the Steelers to learn behind Wilson

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Jan 7, 2024; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
However, the Steelers could be planning to extend Fields after the season, and it could come after Fields wins the starting job. Per Nick Farbaugh with Steelers Now, Tomlin said at the annual league meeting Sunday that Fields is the QB2 so that he can learn behind Wilson:

“Russell is a veteran, man. He’s got a proven process of readiness. He’s been in this league a long time, and he’s capable of rallying troops, receivers, tight ends, and running backs; he’s just got a lot of experience in terms of what it takes over a 12-month calendar. I just think that that’s something that a younger guy like Justin can learn from, and it provides clarity for all parties involved as they do some of the informal things at this time of year.”

Fields will be given the chance to compete for the starting job

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Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) in action against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Fields is getting the opportunity with the Steelers, which he never had with the Bears: the chance to learn how the position is played at the NFL level behind a quality starter in the spring. Per Farabaugh, Fields is excited about the position he is in and knows he will have the chance to “compete” for the starting job in the future:

“Justin will given an opportunity to compete and we’ll allow those guys to sort themselves out. But I thought it was appropriate to describe it in a way for when we get started. Russell’s in pole position, and I think his body of work justifies that. And just from my conversations with Justin, he is excited about working alongside Russell and learning some of those veteran tricks of the trade”

What Tomlin is saying about the dynamic between Fields and Wilson for OTAs isn’t much different from what Tomlin told Kenny Pickett his plan was. Wilson will get the QB1 reps in OTAs and training camp, but Fields will have a chance to compete for the job.

The Steelers aren’t likely going to pick up Fields’ fifth-year option, as that would put them on the books for $25 million next season. But the Steelers didn’t bring Fields in to be just a backup this season. They want him to learn the position so he can lead the Steelers in seasons to come.

If Fields can win the competition.

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