Justin Fields laughs off wild idea of being a kick returner for Steelers in 2024

The Steelers will not use Justin Fields as a kick returner during the 2024 season... and it's for the best.
Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers / John Fisher/GettyImages

If you were hoping to see Justin Fields returning kicks for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024, don't hold your breath. This was an idea that Jaylen Warren floated out there on Cameron Heyward's Not Just Football Podcast, and many believed there could be some truth to this.

According to Fields, this is not going to happen.

The new Steelers quarterback and former 2021 first-round pick laughed off the idea when speaking to the media during OTAs. Fields insisted that 'he's not here' to return kicks and that it was 'kind of a joke', according to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It's not hard to see why Fields would not be in favor of such a role. After the Chicago Bears turned the page on him, Fields is on track to begin his career as the No. 2 quarterback in Pittsburgh... and he's out to prove why he can still be a franchise quarterback in this league.

Steelers are making the right call with Justin Fields

I'll be the first to admit that I would love to see Justin Fields create something out of nothing as a kick returner. With the NFL's new rules adopted from the now-extinct XFL, kick returns should be much safer than ever.

But this is still an unnecessary risk for a player who many hope can be the face of the franchise.

Fields is coming off his best season in 2023 and has shown improvement as a quarterback each year. This isn't a Terrelle Pryor situation -- a player who spent three years as a quarterback before moving to wide receiver. Fields is a quarterback... and one who shows plenty of promise.

As such, his focus should be solely on improving as a quarterback. The hope is that he can do enough to claim the job from Russell Wilson at some point during the 2024 season. Wilson has a much larger body of work but is a decade older than Fields, and the arrow has been pointing down the past three seasons.

The potential reward of Fields turning out to be even a bridge quarterback is far superior to the reward of playing him alongside Cordarrelle Patterson as a kick returner. The best possible outcome as a return man is that he takes a few kicks to the house and avoids getting hurt. However, the worst outcome is that he suffers a significant injury -- putting his future with the team (and chance to reclaim a starting quarterback job) in jeopardy.

Justin Fields is not guaranteed to be a long-term quarterback option for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he's 25 years old and has every tool you could ask for at the position. The team is making the right call by not having their toolsy quarterback return kicks in 2024.