National Football League
Steelers reportedly not expected to pick up Justin Fields' fifth-year option
National Football League

Steelers reportedly not expected to pick up Justin Fields' fifth-year option

Published Apr. 24, 2024 9:48 a.m. ET

The 2024 season will serve as a prove-it year for Justin Fields.

Fields' $25 million fifth-year option won't be picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers, ESPN reported Wednesday. With the move, the quarterback will enter the last year of his contract in 2024, likely making him a free agent next offseason.

The Steelers acquired Fields in March as part of their effort to rebuild their quarterback room, sending a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick to the Chicago Bears to get him. Fields, 25, showed some improvement as a passer toward the end of last season, but the Bears opted to move on from him as they're likely to select Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick in Thursday's draft. The 2021 first-round pick threw for a career-high 2,652 yards last year, with 16 passing touchdowns, nine interceptions, 657 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in 13 games. Chicago was 5-8 in those contests.

While Fields served as the Bears' starting quarterback for the majority of the past three seasons, Russell Wilson entered the offseason program as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. The Steelers signed Wilson for the veteran minimum of $1.2 million in mid-March after the Broncos released him. Denver will pay the rest of Wilson's $39 million salary for 2024.


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters in March that while he wanted to establish a QB hierarchy for the offseason, the door is open for Fields to win the job.

"Rest assured when it's time to compete, Justin will be given an opportunity to compete, and we'll allow those guys to sort themselves out," Tomlin said at the NFL's league meetings.

Tomlin added that Wilson is a veteran "a younger guy like Justin could learn from."

The news that the Steelers are unlikely to pick up Fields' fifth-year option comes on the heels of general manager Omar Khan leaving open the possibility that they select a quarterback at some point in the 2024 NFL Draft.

"I think it's not realistic that we'll be taking a quarterback in Round 1," Khan told reporters at the Steelers' pre-draft press conference. "There are some good players there, and I wouldn't close the door on anything. If there's an opportunity to improve that room, obviously we'll look at it. We've got three guys who are on one-year deals, and we have to be open to it."

Will Justin Fields or Russell Wilson start for the Steelers?

Fields, Wilson and veteran backup Kyle Allen are all signed to one-year deals. Shortly after his signing, Wilson was reportedly told that he would be the starting quarterback, causing Kenny Pickett to request a trade. The Steelers traded Pickett while also releasing Mitchell Trubisky and letting Mason Rudolph walk in free agency. All three were inconsistent last season, though the Steelers went 10-7 and made the playoffs. 

Now they're starting 2024 with a completely new cast of QBs. The Steelers also have to make a decision soon on the fifth-year option of running back Najee Harris

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