The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have an interesting quarterback room in 2024. While it seems like Rusell Wilson is poised to at least start the year as QB1, there have been a fair amount of people banging the drum for new addition Justin Fields.

If Fields ends up as the backup, it’s going to be a big transition for him. It’s been his ball, his team, and his city ever since he got drafted by the Bears in 2020. If they didn’t have the number one pick this year, there’s a good chance he would still be the guy there.

But to Pittsburgh he came, and even if he doesn’t get the starting role, he projects as one of the best backups in the league. Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated ranked Fields fifth among backup quarterbacks in the NFL going into 2024.

“Fields could get a chance to compete for the starting job, but all signs point to him opening training camp behind Wilson.” Manzano said. “If Fields takes the backup role, he’ll need to adjust quickly when his number is called. Fields’s consistency was often an issue with the Chicago Bears, but he had many highs as a three-year starter. He had 40 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and completed 60.3% in 38 starts the past three seasons.”

Fifth seems like a solid spot for Fields. He showed flashes of big-time potential in Chicago but also had moments where it looked like he couldn’t really hack it in a legit NFL offense. That’s not the worst con to have when moving into a backup role, however. If Wilson ever gets hurt, the team likely won’t ask Fields to do anything crazy, just hold down the fort.

Some of the names ahead of Fields set up some good barroom debates as well. First was Jake Browning of the Bengals, who had a great season as a fill-in when Joe Burrow went down with an injury. Browning is probably a better backup than Fields, but his ceiling is obviously much lower.

The same goes for Gardner Minshew and Joe Flacco, who also rank ahead of Fields. If the pieces fall in place for Fields and you really squint, you could picture him becoming elite. While we’ve had that conversation about Flacco in years past, there’s not really a way that could happen anymore.

The one name ahead of Fields I would push back on being ahead of him is Michael Penix Jr., who hasn’t played a single game yet. Sure he looked good in college, but I’d trust the guy with the NFL experience a little more at least for now.

Any way you cut it, Fields projects as one of the better backups in the league in 2024, which is important for a team which is so well built on the defensive side of the ball. I think the gap from Wilson to Fields is one of the smaller ones in the league, and maybe the smallest of any team that has a legit shot at the playoffs. While you never feel good about your backup quarterback having to play, Fields gives you about as much confidence as one could reasonably ask for.


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