Everyone has that friend/uncle/coworker who makes crazy NFL offseason suggestions. You know the ones; the ones that start with a BIG “what if” and need to be taken with a grain of salt. Well, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mike Tomlin decided to just do all of them this 2024 offseason

“What if we were to trade Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers?” Done. “What if we were to sign Russell Wilson after being released by the Denver Broncos?” Signed. “What if we were to trade Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles?” Gone. “What if we were to trade for Justin Fields from the Chicago Bears?” They did that too. 

With NFL free agency still underway and the NFL Draft right around the corner, we have to be very careful with what your uncle says next! And we’re also intrigued with what happens next with the Steelers quarterback position next year. 

We already know that Russell Wilson will be the starter in 2024 based on comments from Mike Tomlin. He’s a no-nonsense guy so he was upfront with Justin Fields about that. “The standard is the standard”, after all. But there are some interesting scenarios that could play out at this time next year. 

And some deadlines associated with that will certainly tip the scales on what might happen. Kenny Pickett will still be on his rookie deal in 2025 so he’s likely stuck as the backup for the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s take a look at all the recent Steelers news, including the Justin Fields trade fallout plus the whole Russell Wilson contract situation. 




Justin Fields Trade: His Fifth-Year Options

With the Justin Fields trade now complete, his first contract deadline will actually hit fairly soon. All first round draft picks in the NFL come with a “fifth-year option” the team can exercise that amounts to another year of team control. The contract for that is based on the player’s performance plus the contracts of their peers at the position - the fifth-year option for Fields would be around $25.7 million. 

That contract is fully guaranteed so the only way out of it would be to trade Fields in 2025. The kicker here is that you need to decide on the fifth-year option BEFORE the fourth year starts. In fact, the deadline is coming up soon on May 2nd, 2024. 

Mike Tomlin can start organized offseason workout programs beginning on April 15th. It’s highly unlikely that Justin Fields would be able to impress the coaches at voluntary minicamp to the point where they decide to pick up that option. It would also come as quite a shock to Justin Fields (more on that below).

But, if they truly believe Fields is a guy that should start for them or another team, $25M is outside the top half of starting QB salaries. Baker Mayfield just got ~$33M per year and Daniel Jones’s contract averaged $40M. I don’t foresee it happening personally but it’s on the table, so we have to mention it.




Steelers + Russell Wilson: Contract Details

The key term here is “offset language”. What that means for certain players is that, if released, their former team is on the hook for the money and any money paid by the new team goes to them. So, if a guy is due $20 million then gets released, he gets the $20 million no matter what. If the new team pays $10 million, that means they pay $10M and the old team pays $10M. 

That’s why Russell Wilson and DeVante Parker were able to sign for the veteran minimum $1.2 million. It just so happens with the Russell Wilson contract that he is due ~$40M, so the Broncos are on the hook for the other ~$39M this year. The Broncos knew this was likely to happen when they released him.

Word is that Russ’s agent was postering to get an unprecedented option tacked on to his deal that would give him guaranteed money in 2025 as well. But no NFL team was biting on that. That means that Russ is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025. And, if they don’t pick up the fifth-year option for Justin Fields, he will ALSO be an unrestricted free agent in 2025. 




Pittsburgh Steelers News: 2025 Quarterback Decision

There have been reports and rumors that Russell Wilson and the Steelers “intend to sign an extension” following the 2024 season. But, due to the terms of the contract from the Broncos, that can’t be signed until the season is over. 

And, as we saw with the 49ers quarterbacks with Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, Brock Purdy, and Sam Darnold, a season is a LONG time where a lot of things can happen. There’s not only a lot of practices and competition that needs to take place but there are injuries as well (we all remember the game Christian McCaffrey played quarterback).

At the end of this season, the Steelers are going to have to have a big decision. Stick with the veteran Russell Wilson? Or go with the young risky play in Justin Fields? If they go with Russ, Fields will also have a decision to make: stay as the backup and “future” in Pittsburgh, or try to win another job in 2025? 

It’s going to be a fun ride this year regardless. It’s just a shame that the Steelers made the playoffs and are exempt from HBO’s Hard Knocks series.




Steelers Schedule: 2024-25 Opponents

While the exact dates have yet to be unveiled, we already know which teams will wind up on the Pittsburgh Steelers schedule this season. We’ve split them up between home and road below:



Stay up to date on the latest Steelers news to be informed of what days these games get scheduled for!