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Mike Florio Names Russell Wilson, Justin Fields As Players Who Will Benefit From Fresh Start

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On PFT Live today, Mike Florio and Chris Simms drafted three players each who they think will benefit from a fresh start with their new team. Florio took both of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ new quarterbacks, picking Russell Wilson at No. 1 and Justin Fields at No. 3.

Florio explained he put Wilson at No. 1 because he needs a good season to resurrect his Hall of Fame candidacy and thinks he can do so in Pittsburgh.

“For him, this is what he needs,” Florio said. “He’s got to resurrect his case for Canton. If the past two years continue, he may have to wait a long time to get in. He has to turn it around in his next stop like Kurt Warner did when he got to the Cardinals.”

Simms added that he was put in a no-win situation in Denver and will at least be able to breathe and not worry about his situation or his future with the Steelers.

“No-win situation, nothing was good in Denver, and at least he has a breath of fresh air here,” Simms said.

As far as ranking Fields at No. 3 on his list, Florio believes that he could beat out Wilson this year, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll have an opportunity to win the job long-term, beyond the 2024 season.

“Justin Fields targeted the Steelers because he looks at Russell Wilson and what he’s done the past couple years and thinks, I can maybe win that job.” Florio said. “Worst-case scenario is ‘I do enough, they decide between the two of us, they’re gonna keep me for 2025.’”

Simms said that if Fields outplays Wilson in training camp and the preseason, he’s going to have a good opportunity to start.

“They’re gonna play the guy that they think they can win football games with. So I totally understand Justin Fields’ position in this. Short-term play, long-term play, there’s a lot of possibilities here, that’s for sure,” Simms said.

Florio added that Wilson being in “pole position” to start is meaningless, and that Fields could still win the job outright this season.

“Pole position means nothing. Pole position means you’re the guy who gets to start the race first. How many times does the guy in pole position not win the race? It means you might get passed, and you might get passed early,” Florio said.

It’s really Wilson’s job to lose, and he would have to struggle in order for the job to go to Fields. Fields would also have to show that he’s the clear-cut better option if Wilson struggles, but it’s understandable why both are on Florio’s list. Fields would’ve been stuck as a lame-duck starter, or more likely, a backup just waiting for his contract to expire if he was with the Bears. He wouldn’t have any long-term future in Chicago stuck behind a rookie quarterback. Going to Pittsburgh at least gives him an opportunity to potentially start or at least play in 2024, while having the potential to become an impact player and starter beyond that if he shows himself to be good enough.

Wilson struggled with Nathaniel Hackett running the show in Denver in 2022, and Sean Payton’s hiring ahead of the 2023 season didn’t help Wilson really turn things around, as the Broncos still struggled. However, his individual numbers did improve, and if he can be even the same quarterback he was in 2023 for the Steelers, he’ll win the job and likely have some success with a better supporting cast than he had with the Broncos.

The hope is that he’ll be better and play with more structure within Arthur Smith’s offense, and while both Florio and Simms talked about the possibility of Fields starting, I’d be surprised if Wilson struggled enough in the preseason and training camp to not win the job. But even if Fields remains the backup, his situation as a backup in Pittsburgh is better than his situation as a backup would’ve been elsewhere. For Wilson, joining the Steelers is a chance to refocus and get back to playing winning football with a strong coaching staff and supporting cast, so both players are absolutely going to benefit from their change of scenery.



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