Can the media stop bashing Russell Wilson before he plays one game for the Steelers?

Just because Denver faltered with Russell Wilson as quarterback doesn't mean the same thing will happen to Wilson with the Steelers.

Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback
Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Once the NFL free agency period opened, the Steelers took little time to address their quarterback situation by signing veteran quarterback Russell Wilson to a one-year deal. Most applauded the move because it gave the Steelers options in the future. The cherry on top is they are only paying him $1.21 million (thanks partly to Denver paying Wilson $39 million). It’s not every day a team can sign a veteran quarterback of his talent and not break the bank.

Before the dust settled on this acquisition, we all learned the Steelers then traded Kenny Pickett to the Eagles. A day later, the Steelers pulled the trigger on a trade for Justin Fields for a mere conditional 2025 6th-round draft choice. For all of 2024, the Steelers will only have to pay Justin Fields his base salary of $3.233 million, as they will not exercise Fields' fifth-year option, which would cost the Steelers $25.664 million.

The Steelers potentially upgraded their quarterbacks for a grand total of $4.43 million and a sixth-round draft choice. These free agency moves are the typical shrewd, cheap off-season moves the Steelers typically make. However, in this case, the players involved have slightly higher talent quality than usual.

Then something odd happened. No sooner than Fields landed in Pittsburgh to join his new team, pundits in the media began bashing Russell Wilson.

They think his time in Pittsburgh will be a colossal failure, and Justin Fields is the Steelers' future at the quarterback position in the Steel City. Some believe the Steelers will move on from Wilson by the beginning of the 2024 season in September.

Why Wilson will Stay in Pittsburgh until the start of the 2025 season

Pundits on the internet must know that everything is not a nice, neat, and black-and-white scenario. So those who have started bashing Wilson, stating the Steelers will move on, are partially correct.

The Steelers only signed Wilson to a one-year deal. The reason for that is first, they are not investing any money into Wilson yet, and the Steelers are biding their time to see if Wilson can bounce back to his old form or if they are getting the same version of Wilson Denver had, which led Denver nowhere.

More than a few people believe Wilson is washed up and should hang up the cleats. Perhaps that might be the case. However, Wilson has one season to prove naysayers wrong. The Steelers will ditch Wilson and have a potential alternative if he fails. At that point, Wilson can see if another team, assuming one, wants to sign him.

The Steelers Alternative

If Russell Wilson falters, the Steelers will have the option of seeing what Justin Fields can do. However, one must take that notion with a grain of salt. There is no denying Justin Fields has talent. Arguably, he is better than Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance and is the 2nd most successful quarterback in his draft class. He has yet to prove he can lead the Steelers deep into the playoffs though.

Sure, there is much to like about Fields, but the first thing the Steelers must answer is whether Fields was the problem in Chicago or was it the Bears. Ironically, the Steelers need to answer the same question about Russell Wilson.

Furthermore, where's the incentive to ditch Wilson before the season begins? It makes more financial sense to keep Wilson even as a backup if, by some stretch, Fields wins the starting role.

Additionally, people should be careful about thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence when recycling Bears' quarterbacks to the Steelers. First, we had Mike Tomczack, a good quarterback, but he was just on the downside of his career despite playing for the Steelers for seven seasons. In his only starting season in 1996, he took the Steelers to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Upon signing Mitch Trubisky, many boldly claimed he would lead the Steelers to the Superbowl or lead the AFC in passing statistics. Yet those lofty aspirations were shattered within moments of the 2022 season's start.

The Steelers have now acquired Justin Fields, whose potential is undeniable, but not without risks. The jury is still out on what the Steelers will truly gain from Fields.

The point is it's too early to say Fields will outplay Wilson. Sure, he could, but we don't know that he will. Plus, there is nothing to justify the notion that Rusell Wilson will play just as badly in Pittsburgh as in Denver. Despite the Broncos having two bad seasons, Wilson had fairly decent stats in the 2023 season compared to the Steelers quarterbacks.

So, let's all be a little patient and see how they all perform. Remember that the Steelers are tied to neither beyond one season; thus, there is no need to rush anyone out the door. We need to let the situation settle itself, which it will soon.