Justin Fields on Steelers QB situation, Russell Wilson: 'I'm definitely competing. Russ knows that'

When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Justin Fields in March, it was reported that the former Chicago Bears quarterback was joining the team in a clearly defined role — as Russell Wilson's backup.

Since then, head coach Mike Tomlin has opened the door to a quarterback competition in which Fields can win the starting job. He has said on multiple occasions since the trade that Wilson is in "pole position," but Fields will have "opportunity to compete."

As far as Fields is concerned, the competition is on with the start of Steelers offseason organized activities (OTAs) this week. Fields addressed his mindset while speaking with reporters at OTAs on Tuesday.

"I'm definitely competing," Fields said. "Russ knows that. We're competing against each other every day. ... I definitely don't have the mindset of me just sitting all year. I'm coming in every day giving it all I've got — pushing him to be his best, and he's pushing me to be my best each and every day."

An open competition makes more sense than handing the keys to a 35-year-old Wilson who significantly regressed from his Pro Bowl form with the Seattle Seahawks in two seasons with the Denver Broncos. Because of his performance in Denver, the Broncos bailed on Wilson this offseason, despite owing him $39 million in guaranteed money next season.

Fields, meanwhile, failed to live up to the expectations that made him the 11th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Bears moved on to Caleb Williams this offseason, and no team was willing to commit significant trade capital to acquire Fields or pick up the $25.6 million fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The Steelers acquired him for a conditional sixth-round pick and declined the fifth-year option.

Once on-field foes, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are now competing for the same job. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Once on-field foes, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are now competing for the same job. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

But Fields showed flashes in Chicago and is one of the league's best runners at the position. Plus, he's 25 years old. Absent a contract extension, the Steelers have this season to figure out what they have in Fields and if he still possesses the upside that made him a first-round pick. There's no way to find out if it's worth signing him to a new contract if he isn't given a chance to play.

Fields believes he has plenty more room to grow.

"I'm not the same quarterback as I was last year," Fields continued. "I'm not the same quarterback as I even was yesterday. I'm gonna continue to get better each and every day. ... I think I have a lot more room to grown. I'm nowhere near my ceiling."

He also said he wanted to be in Pittsburgh and thanked Bears general manager Ryan Poles for honoring his request to be traded to the Steelers.

"Shoutout to Poles," Fields said, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "We communicated to him through my agent, and I told him where I wanted to be and this was a place I wanted to be, so he honored that and I appreciate him for that and glad he was able to put me in a spot where I wanted to be at."

Wilson and Fields each got reps with Steelers receivers in drills Tuesday.

After practice, Wilson didn't directly address Fields while speaking with reporters. He did say that he "learned a lot" from his experience in Denver.

"If anything, I've just learned a lot," Wilson said. "I think that internally you get better, you get tougher. You use your experiences, you use the challenges that you've gone through to be the best version of you.

"So, I don't blink. And I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity."

However the Steelers' quarterback room shakes out will remain one of the NFL's most compelling offseason storylines.