Mike Tomlin makes foolish declaration to Russell Wilson following Justin Fields trade

Did Mike Tomlin just eliminate a quarterback competition in Pittsburgh?

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Steelers fans were ecstatic when they learned that Pittsburgh had traded for quarterback Justin Fields. In the aftermath of the Kenny Pickett trade, it was clear that Omar Khan needed to find help at the position as Russell Wilson was the only quarterback on the roster.

At 35 years old and coming off two down seasons in Denver, nobody should be viewing Wilson as the long-term answer this team needs at the quarterback position.

But there is still hope that Justin Fields could be that guy.

Following his third NFL season, Fields turned 25 years old the week before free agency. The young quarterback still has a long way to go as a passer, but he has shown improvement in each season. Last year, he recorded 20 total touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 13 games while chipping in an impressive 657 rushing yards.

While Fields is clearly the only quarterback with upside on the roster, he's not the one who is expected to take the field with the first-team offense.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called Russell Wilson as the trade for Justin Field was going down to ensure Wilson that he is going to be the starting quarterback in 2024.

This was a foolish move on the part of Tomlin. The Steelers just landed a quarterback with more talent and upside than Wilson who happens to be a decade younger. So why declare Wilson the starter this prematurely?

Did Mike Tomlin make promises he can't keep?

Honestly, this probably goes back to comments that were made when Wilson first signed his deal. While the Steelers didn't come right out and say it, there was no incentive for Russell Wilson to sign with Pittsburgh on a veteran-minimum contract before testing the market without the promise of starting in 2024.

Regardless of what went down behind the scenes, Tomlin needs to leave this up to an open competition at the quarterback position. As the arrow is pointed up for Fields, it has been pointing down for Wilson over the past three seasons since his final year in Seattle.

If we get into training camp and Fields looks like the better player, what then? Is Mike Tomlin really going to stay true to his word even if it's not in the best interest of the team?

Russell Wilson may look like the quarterback who should be starting in 2024, but the process is wrong. Regardless of the conversations this team had with Wilson before he signed his contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was no need to eliminate competition for the starting quarterback job before it even started.