Skip to content

How Ex-NFL QB Thinks Steelers Should Handle ‘Fascinating’ Roster Battle

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a complicated decision to make before kicking off the 2024 NFL season.

Do they roll with Russell Wilson as their starting quarterback in the hopes the veteran can turn back the clock and replicate his success with the Seattle Seahawks rather than his underwhelming tenure with the Denver Broncos? Or do they hand the offensive keys to Justin Fields, a 2021 first-round pick who arguably has more upside and more runway remaining in his NFL career?

Whichever quarterback the franchise chooses as its Week 1 starter could have massive complications, both in the short- and long-term. The Steelers face an uphill battle as far as reaching the playoffs this season, as they compete in a loaded AFC North, but their defense remains strong, they have a new offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith and Mike Tomlin is one heck of a head coach. This season could go in a number of different directions. The same can be said for next season and beyond.

For Tim Hasselbeck, a former NFL quarterback now working as an analyst for ESPN, the answer is simple.

“If you’re going to have both Justin Fields and Russell Wilson on the roster, then I think that Russell Wilson needs to be your starter Week 1,” Hasselbeck said this week on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “I just don’t see an environment where Russell Wilson is the backup and it’s good for your football team, with Justin Fields as your starter.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think it’s important for people to remember this: Both guys are there playing for their next contract. Yeah, they’re playing for the Steelers. But they’re really playing for their next contract. And I think that dynamic is going to be fascinating. That’s why I think Russ, if he’s on the roster with Fields, needs to be the starter.”

The Steelers signed Wilson, now entering his 13th season, after the Broncos released the nine-time Pro Bowler earlier this offseason. He turns 36 in November.

Fields, meanwhile, joined the mix via a trade with the Chicago Bears, who opted to select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Fields is just 25 years old and entering his fourth season.

Needless to say, the Steelers have quite a conundrum on their hands — although it sure beats the alternative of not having a viable quarterback on the roster, which is the predicament Pittsburgh dealt with throughout the 2023 campaign despite ultimately punching its ticket to the postseason.

Story continues below advertisement

Featured image via Jamie Sabau/USA TODAY Sports Images