Ranking the best ways Steelers can get the football in Justin Fields' hands in 2024

The idea to use Justin Fields in a creative way has been floated out there, so let's roll with it.
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Justin Fields, fans were optimistic that there would be an open competition at the quarterback position between Fields and veteran Russell Wilson. This might not be the case. When the Steelers signed Wilson it came with some stipulations -- the biggest was Mike Tomlin assuring Wilson he would be the starter.

If you've watched Fields over the past three seasons, then you know that he's too dynamic of an athlete to simply leave rotting on the bench with a clipboard. Recently, Steelers RB Jaylen Warren revealed on the Not Just Football Podcast with Cameron Heyward that Pittsburgh is flirting with the idea of using Fields as a kick returner.

This was quickly a trending topic on social media, and it got me thinking: how could the Pittsburgh Steelers get the football into Justin Fields' hands during the 2024 season? I ranked the best ways to do so based on Fields' skillset, value added to the team, and injury risk.

4. Justin Fields can return kicks

While I wouldn't completely throw this idea out the window, it might be the least enticing of all the possible ways the Steelers could get the football in Fields' hands this year. If it wasn't for the new kickoff rules, I wouldn't have even given this a second thought.

However, now that players from both teams will line up just five yards apart on the kickoff, this should greatly reduce the injury risk to Fields. Still, the possible reward of a small percentage to take one to the house isn't worth the shots he will take -- especially considering the Steelers have a future Hall of Fame kick returner on the roster in Cordarrelle Patterson.

3. Justin Fields can take carries from the backfield

The next greatest injury risk and third-best option overall to get Justin Fields involved would be giving him the occasional touch from the backfield. This could come in a variety of ways, including jet sweeps or even lining up at running back for a snap or two per game.

At 6'2 3/4'' and 227 pounds with 4.46 speed, there's no question that Fields can work some magic with the ball in his hands, but their two-headed RB duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren can handle things from the backfield, while speedy wide receivers can take the occasional Jet sweep. I'm not opposed to giving him a few touches per game, but there are even better ways to do this.

2. Justin Fields could be used as a receiver

Here's where things really start to get interesting. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been searching desperately for a big wide receiver with run-after-the-catch ability. While I don't believe the team should transition Fields into a full-time receiver, this could give them a good bang for their buck.

Fields does best work when he can make defenders miss in space, so throwing the ball to him on the occasional slant route or bubble screen could give the offense the spark they are looking for while minimizing injury risk. I don't want Fields putting his body on the line for every snap or as a blocker, but a small niche role as a gadget receiver could work.

1. Justin Fields could be... a quarterback

Here's an interesting thought: how about the Pittsburgh Steelers use Justin Fields as a quarterback? After all, that is what got him drafted in the first round to play.

We know that Russell Wilson is in 'pole position' for the starting QB job, but if Fields is as talented as the team believes he is, he will earn the starting job eventually. Fields just turned 25 years old, and the future could be bright now that he's had a much-needed change of scenery.

Leaving Justin Fields as a true quarterback who is focused solely on the QB position is for the best.