Are the Steelers aiming for a new standard with Justin Fields?

Things feel very different in Pittsburgh these days; Are the Steelers really changing the standard?

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1)
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Is there something in the water in Pittsburgh? This has to have been the most atypical Steelers off-season in my lifetime, and that trend continued as the team officially secured Justin Fields. As a friendly reminder, this team was content with Kenny Pickett as their quarterback. That wasn’t the case, as this team has been through an upheaval at the position.

As a follower of this team, I had come to the conclusion that the Steelers aspire to have a new standard in place. Gone was the team focused on winning Super Bowls, and in its place was a franchise focused on remaining relevant. Moves were made every year to secure a winning season and a possible playoff birth, but there was never enough risk to make the big move into contender range.

I argued that the Russell Wilson signing was further evidence of that. You land a viable veteran on a team-friendly deal with the hopes that he pushes Pickett. That said, given his decline, it seemed like a move that at least secured the standard for this team. The Fields move is quite the opposite.

The Steelers got good value for Fields

While the fine print of the deal has not been finalized, the Steelers are giving up, at least a sixth-round pick in 2025 for Fields. The trade has some incentive clauses, and while the details are unknown as of this writing, that pick could turn into as high as a fourth-round pick. That is likely dependent on playing time more than anything else.

In terms of value, you can’t be upset with that deal. Like the Wilson move, you are acquiring talent for just about the minimum. Pickett fetched a better price than Fields, and even Mac Jones landed a pick in this year's draft. Even if Fields barely plays, a future sixth-round pick for a backup quarterback is a reasonable value.

There is, of course, the potential this deal has. Fields has been lauded as a potential franchise quarterback ever since he entered the league. He has shown flashes of that at times but has also had stretches of extremely poor play. Chicago tried to hide it (miserably) but there wasn’t enough for them to consider keeping Fields over Caleb Williams. If Fields puts it together you could have a dynamic player at the position for, at most, a fourth-round pick.

There are elements to this deal to be weary of. Fields is in the final year of his rookie contract, so a decision will need to be made about what to do with him long-term. The fifth-year option is in play, but I would argue it is unnecessary given the draft compensation. You have the franchise tag to use if need be instead of locking him onto your team for a chunk of change next offseason.

That is a short window to see what you have in Fields. My guess is that the Steelers will do everything in their power to have him start (sorry Wilson) in order to see if he is the future. If he falters, Wilson can be the plan B to get this team through the season.

Again, the actual details of this deal are favorable to the Steelers. Many were saying that a third-round pick this year would have to be the compensation for Fields. Pittsburgh got him for potentially just a sixth next year. You can’t be that upset with the compensation.

Next. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. dark

My honest opinion is that Fields won’t be the savior most expect him to be. I think his game will be too inconsistent for the Steelers, and he and Wilson will split the year before he walks in free agency. That said, the Steelers are trying for something different, and they are doing it on a budget. For that, I commend them.