Just Fields is too dynamic for Steelers to leave him on the bench in 2024

The Steelers have one of the best athletes in the NFL, and Justin Fields is too dangerous with the ball in his hands to simply ride the bench.

Jan 7, 2024; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during warmups
Jan 7, 2024; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during warmups / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

When the Pittsburgh Steelers surprisingly traded for Justin Fields after Kenny Pickett was dealt to the Eagles, fans were hoping to see a true quarterback competition between the 25-year-old Fields and the 35-year-old Russell Wilson.

Each quarterback brings something unique to the table, and they are in very different stages of their NFL careers. Wilson is the experienced veteran with loads of post-season experience and a Super Bowl ring, while Fields is the polarizing talent with tremendous upside who is still putting everything all together.

Theoretically, this would have made for a tremendous battle during Steelers training camp this summer -- pinning the traits against the experience in a competition for QB1 in Pittsburgh.

Sadly, that won't be the case.

Mike Tomlin reached out to Russell Wilson as the Fields trade was processing to assure him that he would be starting quarterback in 2024, while the Steelers reportedly informed Fields that he will be the backup.

Whatever discussion happened behind closed doors likely led to this decision (though I can't say that I agree with avoiding QB competition before it even starts). If this proves to be the case, Wilson will indeed be the starting quarterback this season.

But where does that leave Fields? The dynamic QB is too talented to ride the bench all season.

Steelers need to find a creative way to utilize Justin Fields in 2024

I'm holding out hope that Justin Fields can showcase his skills in camp and eventually earn the starting quarterback job from Wilson. Fields is a decade younger and the arrow is still pointed up after coming off his best season with the Bears in 2023.

In the meantime, the Steelers need to find a way to get Fields involved on offense. How that looks exactly is hard to say; however, it's not hard to envision the creative ways Arthur Smith could use him.

Fields isn't your typical quarterback. At 6'2 3/4'' 227 pounds and 4.46 speed, he has routinely showcased his ability to break tackles and carve up yardage with the ball in his hands. Though he's always been a quarterback, perhaps Smith could engineer some creative ways to get him touches that could spark the offense.

Fields is an electrifying football player who is talented enough to receive work as a receiver on bubble screens or slants thanks to his homerun ability. He could also touch the ball on jet sweeps. In his first three seasons, he has carried the ball 356 times for 2,220 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns.

I know this game plan seems bizarre. Why put your backup quarterback in harm's way if you don't need to? The answer is pretty simple: you don't see many players at Fields' size move the way he does with the ball in his hands -- regardless of position.

If the Steelers refuse to allow a fair and equal quarterback competition, then they should find a way to get an uber-talented athlete like Justin Fields involved from time to time.

Of course, Fields could veto this whole idea. Set to play in the final year of his rookie contract, he likely will not want to risk injury when he's trying to earn a new contract -- especially when he still has aspirations of being a long-term starting quarterback in the NFL.

I know that this notion seems far-fetched, but Justin Fields is one of the most dynamic athletes in the NFL, and forcing him to sit on the bench behind Russell Wilson feels like a colossal waste of talent. I would be shocked if the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to use him as anything but a quarterback, but I'm not opposed to the idea of getting the ball into the hands of one of the most lethal runners in the league.