Denver Broncos dodged a bullet not trading for Justin Fields

The Broncos were smart to refrain from trading for now Steelers QB Justin Fields.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / John Fisher/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos have had a relatively quiet free agency period during the 2024 NFL offseason, especially at the quarterback position. Aside from the decision to part ways with Russell Wilson, who is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team has sniffed around the trade/free agent market including quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Sam Darnold. Head coach Sean Payton seems to be fairly confident with his future plans at the position despite not being hyper-aggressive to pursue a quarterback thus far.

The Chicago Bears traded away quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional sixth-round pick that could become a fourth-round selection depending on 2024 playing time. This raises the question: Why did the Broncos front office not feel the need to take a chance on the 25-year-old dual-threat, especially at a reduced price?

During his first three seasons in the league, Fields has struggled to read NFL defenses at a quick pace nor can he process at a high level. You've probably heard it a million times, but it's simply true. It often appears at times on his film that he's overthinking what he sees in real-time. As a result, he'll often hold onto the football too long, thus leaving plays on the field and putting the rest of the team at a disadvantage. Who does that remind you of? Former Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.

No matter how you look at it, Fields is not cut out to quarterback a Sean Payton offense for similar reasons that Wilson did not ultimately work out in Denver in 2023. He's an excellent improviser, like Wilson, and is probably the league's best rushing quarterback outside of Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, however, that is not a playstyle the Broncos are looking for at the position.

In hindsight, it certainly would not have been the worst decision to acquire Fields by only surrendering a sixth-round pick but if he were to play more than 51% of snaps, the draft pick would become a fourth-round selection instead. Given the fact that Fields does not schematically translate well what Payton has run most of his career as an offensive playcaller, this could have turned out to be another wasted draft pick.

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Not to mention, as the Broncos appear to be headed towards a reset year, starting Fields over a potential first-round quarterback could significantly hinder the entire goal of developing the right player(s) during a rebuilding year. If anything, fans should be more optimistic Payton refused to kick the tires on Fields. He likely has something up his sleeve for the upcoming NFL draft.