Steelers QB Justin Fields was told he 'will be the backup' to Russell Wilson

What do the Steelers have to gain from avoiding quarterback competition in 2024?

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Most of Steelers Nation rejoiced when news broke that Pittsburgh had traded for quarterback, Justin Fields. At the cost of only a future 6th-round draft choice, the Steelers landed an uber-talented former first-round pick to their QB room who could come in and compete with Russell Wilson... or so we thought.

Unfortunately, that won't be the case.

As the trade for Justin Fields was processing, Mike Tomlin made a foolish declaration to Russell Wilson that he would be the starting quarterback in 2024 -- removing any sort of competition at the position before it even started.

That report came from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. Now a new report has surfaced that backs up these claims. This time, Gerry Dulac of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claims that Fields has been told that there will be no competition at the QB position in Pittsburgh and that the job has already been given to Wilson. Here's what Dulac had to see on The Rich Eisen Show:

"Apparently, Justin Fields has been told there is no open competition; you will be the backup to Russell Wilson. And again, maybe after all they have gone through with Russell Wilson coming here, they wanted to make sure that this arrangement was spoken, and apparently, that has been the case. "

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This whole situation seems strange. Why would Tomlin eliminate quarterback competition between Wilson and Fields? What is there to gain from doing so?

Steelers would be unwise to avoid QB competition

Avoiding a perfect opportunity to promote quarterback competition seems unwise. These types of situations could force players like Wilson and Fields to work harder and prove that they are worthy of winning the job. But according to Dulac, the Steelers are not open to this idea.

While Dulac didn't have all the answers, he believes that the reason Wilson was willing to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the veteran minimum came with a promise that he would be the starting quarterback in 2024. This is something that Tomlin likely agreed to behind closed doors.

Then the unexpected happened. Kenny Pickett reacted poorly to the Wilson signing and forced his way out the door in a trade to the Eagles. As a countermove, Pittsburgh couldn't pass up the exceptionally low cost of trading for Justin Fields.

Not wanting to go back on his word, Rapoport reported that Tomlin informed Wilson he would be the starter. Meanwhile, Dulac reported that Fields was told by the team that he would be the backup this season.

But the oddity of the situation doesn't end there.

Dulac went on to say that Russell Wilson would like to sign a 'longer deal' with the Pittsburgh Steelers and that the interest is mutual.

"It is [Russell Wilson's] intention, what I've been told, and the Steelers' intention -- and two different people have told me this who would know -- that they want to do a longer deal... Their intention is to do a deal beyond this year. "

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dulac went on to say that the Steelers are not expected to pick up Fields' fifth-year option, though he thinks they could sign Fields to an extension.

It certainly seems premature to talk about signing Wilson to a contract extension. Following the 2024 season, Wilson will be a 36-year-old quarterback who might not have much left in the tank. Of the two quarterbacks on the roster, the arrow is pointing up for Fields while it's been pointing down for Wilson over the past three seasons before signing with the Steelers.

If these reports are true, the Steelers intend to keep their verbal promise to Russell Wilson and avoid a quarterback competition this summer. Regardless of what has been said, this decision seems unwise. Let's hope Mike Tomlin allows the better QB to win the job in 2024 (and possibly beyond).