Were Browns wrong for avoiding Justin Fields as a backup quarterback?

Justin Fields was an option for the Cleveland Browns and they were recently criticized for passing on the Ohio State product.
Pittsburgh Steelers Justin Fields
Pittsburgh Steelers Justin Fields / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Backup quarterback was a focal point for the Cleveland Browns this offseason after cycling through five signal callers in 2023. Joe Flacco ended up winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for his work through five starts but at 39 years of age, the Browns weren't ready to bring him back.

Instead, they signed Jameis Winston to a one-year deal and Flacco joined the Indianapolis Colts. Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, is nine years younger than Flacco and by all accounts is an excellent backup. Still, ESPN believes the Browns missed the boat by not trading for Justin Fields.

A first-round pick in 2021, Fields showed signs of improvement last year with 2,562 yards passing and a 16-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He's also a dangerous runner who went for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022 and added another 657 yards and four touchdowns in 2023.

The writing was on the wall for Fields when the Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick, which was used on Caleb Williams. With the USC product coming in, Chicago had no leverage and got a mere sixth-round pick for the Ohio State product. Jared Mueller of Dawgs by Nature recently discussed this and shared a quote from ESPN, calling it a "misstep" to allow Fields to land with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"My biggest critique of the Browns this offseason is what theydidn’tdo at quarterback. They added Jameis Winston (and Tyler Huntley) as their backups over Joe Flacco, which was fine given Flacco’s age and lack of recent success prior to 2023. But they could have aimed higher. While the Browns are heavily invested in Deshaun Watson, he has played poorly enough in Cleveland that the team ought to look at alternatives rather than run out the clock on a talented roster. Not trading for Fields, who was eventually dealt for a conditional sixth-round pick, was a misstep, in my view."

Fields enters the offseason as the No. 2 option behind Russell Wilson, who was released by the Denver Broncos. He's set to replace Kenny Pickett, who forced a trade following the signing of Wilson.

Cleveland was linked to Fields early in the offseason but in the end, they went with Winston who has been impressive during offseason workouts. In the end, the goal will be that Winston never sees any meaningful action, and if that's the case, we'll never have to worry about whether or not they made the right call to back up Deshaun Watson.

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