Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Russell Wilson vs. Justin Fields: Which one would you rather have in 2024? Comparing pros and cons of both QBs

Sometimes, a perceived easy decision is harder than expected. That’s certainly the case when it comes to comparing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Justin Fields

Which quarterback would you rather have on your team for the 2024 season? Fields was my initial answer. But after taking a few things into consideration, I found myself wondering if I would actually rather have Wilson leading my squad next season. 

Obviously, what team you cheer for obviously needs to be factored in. Fields makes way more sense for some teams, while Wilson might be the better choice for others. One thing that’s obvious is that Broncos fans would choose Fields with Wilson’s tenure in Denver over after two disappointing seasons. 

So, which quarterback is the preferred one? Let’s find out together by going through the following categories comparing the two. 

Cost 

Wilson is the hands-down winner here. He could likely be had at a veteran’s minimum salary since the Broncos are paying him $39 million not to play for them in 2024. Wilson is the ideal quarterback for a cash-strapped team. 

Fields isn’t terribly expensive, though. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract that includes a cap hit this season of just over $6 million. There is the question of Fields’ fifth-year option, which has to be picked up by May 2. If Fields’ option is picked up, he would make somewhere in the ballpark of $25 million in 2025. A lot of money, but not a lot for a starting quarterback. 

If Fields has a monster 2024 season, he will immediately command a salary befitting a franchise quarterback. The floor for those types of salaries is $40 million and rising. 

There’s also the question of trade capital. Unlike Wilson, Fields is still under contract; it’ll likely require at least one fairly high draft pick to acquire him. My guess is that a team will have to surrender at least a second-round pick for Fields’s services, or multiple midround picks. 

Advantage: Wilson 

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Experience 

Again, Wilson has a clear edge. His 204 career stars are more than five times the amount of games Fields has started in the NFL. Wilson also has 105 more wins in the NFL than Fields, who has just 10 so far. 

Experience buys you a lot of advantages in the NFL. Wilson has seen pretty much everything a quarterback can see on a football field. He’s had experience running several different offenses, which should help him get adjusted to yet another new one in 2024. 

Wilson also has a keen understanding of the ebbs and flows of an NFL season. Having a veteran who can provide perspective and a level head is never a bad thing to have on your side. 

Advantage: Wilson 

Upside 

This is a no-brainer. Sure, Wilson and whoever signs him is expecting him to perform better than he did in Denver. But overall, we largely know what we’re getting from Wilson at this stage of his career. 

Wilson can still run, but he isn’t the threat he once was with his legs. And as he gets older, he will only get less mobile. The big question is how well can he move in the pocket while avoiding pass rushers. For now, Wilson appears to still have that part of his game. 

As far as throwing the ball, Wilson is still accurate. He’s also still good at taking care of the ball. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a drop in Wilson’s deep-ball accuracy, either. 

A big concern with Wilson is the amount of times he’s been hit. He was sacked a league-high 55 times in 2022 and was taken down 45 times in 15 games last season. Wilson is already the fourth-most sacked quarterback in NFL history. Those hits will take their toll at some point, if they haven’t started to already. 

Personally, I think those hits have already started to impact Wilson’s play. Really, he hasn’t a Wilson-type season since 2020, and it’s fair to wonder if he ever will again. 

Ironically, Wilson and Fields tied for the league lead in the amount of times sacked in 2022. Fields has also taken his share of hits, but at 24 years old, he has a lot more tread on his tires. 

Accuracy is a concern for Fields. He completed a career-high 61.4% of his passes last season, but that’s still a low percentage by today’s standards. Some of that could be the pass rush he has constantly faced in Chicago and the offenses he’s played in. But it’s still a concern nonetheless. 

Like Wilson, Fields has a strong arm and isn’t afraid to use it. He’s also good when it comes to taking care of the ball. Fields’ running, however, is vastly different from Wilson at this point in time. In 2022, Fields had the second-greatest rushing season by a quarterback in NFL history. His mobility makes him extremely dangerous. 

Advantage: Fields 

Overall ability 

As noted above, Wilson is the more accurate quarterback and is still capable of winning games as a starting quarterback. But Fields is vastly more mobile and is capable of making more big plays with his ability to extend plays. Fields is the more durable player, too, largely because of his age and the amount of hits Wilson has already taken. 

Advantage: Fields 

Intangibles 

Wilson’s leadership was called into question in both Seattle and Denver. Without being in either locker room, I think it’s still fair to say that Wilson isn’t for everyone. Some may gravitate toward his style of leadership, while others might be turned off by it. 

Wilson would probably fit in better in a locker room that already has an established personality. And while his experience is an asset, Wilson would probably benefit from picking his spots when it comes to making his voice heard in locker room settings. 

There haven’t been such questions regarding Fields during his time in Chicago. In fact, he’s been a team captain. He appears to be more content letting his actions on the field do the talking for him. 

Is winning games an intangible skill? If so, Wilson has an edge here. But I personally think it depends on the person. Fields proved he’s a winner during his time at Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to a win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff despite suffering a painful injury to his midsection during the game. Nothing endears a player more to his teammates than one that is willing to play injured. 

Advantage: Fields 

Verdict

So, there you have it. It’s close, but Fields is the quarterback I’d rather have leading my team. We’ll see which quarterback ultimately has the better season in 2024. 

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