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Justin Fields and The Week That Was

Justin Fields heading to the Steelers for a late-round pick capped off a crazy first week of free agency. Here's some of the most impactufl moves made in the last seven days!

The inevitable trade of quarterback Justin Fields finally happened, and he was sent to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a sixth-round pick. If Fields meets certain playing time thresholds, it could be a fourth-round pick. Still, that seems like a steal for the QB2 in the 2021 Draft Class.

Let’s examine the Fields trade and a couple of other moves from last week, one of the craziest weeks of free agency in history.

The Steelers QB Room

The Pittsburgh brass has now totally remade their quarterback room after the Kenny Pickett debacle and did it incredibly inexpensively. The signing of Russell Wilson was the first domino to fall, and it gave them a starting quarterback for less than $2 million. If things go south with him, he’s inexpensive to get cut.

(Photo Courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Fields gives them a nice safety net and a potential quarterback of the future. He finished fifth and ninth in fantasy points per game the past two seasons, but he’s struggled to be a consistent NFL starter. Fields has games in which he looks like a top-five quarterback and games in which he looks like he should be benched.

Wilson gives the Steelers a veteran presence to work with Fields, and both should challenge for the starting role. The team needs offensive line help, but it has a strong running game, a few nice targets, George Pickens and Pat Freiemuth, and a defense that will keep the team in games.

The Steelers continue to make moves that show why it’s one of the best-managed franchises in sports. They quickly moved on from Pickett and added two QBs that gives them many options. For my money, I am betting on Fields winning the job and the Steelers will want to see if he’s their QB of the future.

What About Da Bears?

On the other hand, the Bears continue to show why they aren’t a well-run franchise. They are making moves to set themselves up for Caleb Williams—I get that—but the return on a former first-round pick quarterback seems meager.

A report has surfaced that other teams were in on the trade offers, but Fields wanted to go to Pittsburgh. The Bears did him “right” by honoring that, yet I think you still want to hold out for more value. It’s hard to imagine that there isn’t some team that would give at least a second-round pick.

Running Backs Aren’t Worth Anything

We covered a few of the running back signings in-depth last week, but it’s still worth noting that we’ve been led to believe that the position is dying. RBs are not getting paid, and the market was going to be tepid despite some massive names available.

Josh Jacobs kicked oft-injured Aaron Jones out of Green Bay, and Saquon Barkley stayed in the division. Both netted over $12 million a year paydays. D’Andre Swift joins the Chicago Bears and their revamped offense. Tony Pollard is with the Titans, squashing any hopes we had of dynasty darling Tyjae Spears having a bigger role – unless Pollard isn’t who we hope he is.

(Photo Courtesy of Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire)

Even the old guys, Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry, land on new rosters, the Commanders and Ravens, respectively. On the Ravens offense, Henry has a strong chance at an RB1 season at the age of 30. Even Devin Singletary, now on the Giants, and Antonio Gibson, with the Patriots, found a decent payday and landed on teams with a good chance of being the lead back.

Veteran Joe Mixon was traded to the Texans and signed to a new contract. The Bengals are now relying on Chase Brown, Chris Evans, and Zach Moss, who was recently added. With new starting running backs, both teams will be in the hunt for the AFC Championship.

All of this movement may be due to the incoming running back class. The Draft class of runners is pretty unsexy. Trey Brenson, Braelon Allen, and Jonathon Brooks all have as many questions as they do likelihood of being solid NFL backs. Audric Estime, Jaylen Wright, Blake Corum, and Ray Davis could have strong fantasy roles if they land in the right situation, but still, a lot of questions. Most teams seemed to want to address their needs in free agency.

Alexander Mattison, Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers, JK Dobbins, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are the most notable free-agent backs still available. It’s fairly bleak if you want a running back and don’t want to draft one.

Quiet on the WR Front

We can go in the other direction when talking about the wide receivers. A strong, deep Draft class and few options in free agency have led to a quiet week for WRs.

Calvin Ridley got the big payday, signing for $23 million a year with the Titans. Mike Evans and Michael Pittman stay with the Bucs and Colts. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown lands in Kansas City, igniting his fantasy value with Patrick Mahomes. Darnell Mooney and Gabe Davis found $13 million paydays despite being marginal WR talents.

(Photo Courtesy of Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

The Bears, again, made a splash by trading virtually nothing for a potential Hall of Famer, Keenan Allen. Having Allen and DJ Moore gives their new quarterback two extremely reliable pass-catching options. The Panthers traded for veteran Diontae Johnson, giving their Young quarterback a reliable slot option. Johnson should be a lock for 150+ targets in Carolina.

Mike Williams, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Gallup, and Tyler Boyd “highlight” the list of WRs still available in free agency. With the draft class coming up, it’s going to be tough for those players to find a payday.

Holy Linebackers, Batman!

Our IDP team is working on a more detailed breakdown of key free agents on the move, and there were many. Particularly at the linebacker position.

Bryce Huff turned a 10-sack season into a $17 million a year payday with the Eagles, who desperately needed help after losing many key free agency. It was kind of a puzzling contract, but those players who get after QBs get the money.

(Photo Courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

The biggest money was given to EDGE/LB Danielle Hunter, a long-time Viking who is headed to Houston for $24.5 a year for two years. Patrick Queen stays in the AFC North and signed for three years, $41 million, with the Steelers. They have been searching for a strong middle linebacker since Ryan Shazier left. Azeez Al-Shaair parlayed two strong seasons into a massive payday, also with Houston, signing for three years and $34 million.

Frankie Luvu heads to Washington on a similar three-year deal and will give them stability in the middle. Along with veteran Bobby Wagner, who is also a Commander with a one-year deal. Jordyn Brooks signs for three years in Miami, giving them a strong option in the middle and a potential three-down LB.

Regardless, there are many linebackers who will have an impact on IDP in different defenses. We will break them down more in-depth, and the rankings will assuredly be shaken up.

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