Bears Gauging Justin Fields’ Trade Value, Expected To Finalize QB Plan By Combine

Ryan Poles broke with tradition by moving the No. 1 overall pick before free agency last year. The Bears and Panthers finalized their swap involving the 2023 top selection on March 10. It does not look like Chicago will delay its latest decision involving a No. 1 choice much longer.

Both Poles and president Kevin Warren have described this as a unique situation, and while the Bears have offered praise for their three-year starting quarterback, the likelihood of a reset around Caleb Williams remains. The Bears are meeting about their QB situation, and’s Albert Breer indicates the expectation is a plan is expected to emerge by the time clubs gather at the Combine next week.

[RELATED: Bears Would Seek ‘Historic Haul’ For No. 1 Pick]

The Bears received inquiries on Justin Fields at the Senior Bowl last month, Breer adds, and while the team has not shopped its three-year starter, those discussions in Mobile helped shape the Chicago incumbent QB’s trade value. A late-season report pegged Fields as being worth at least a Day 2 pick, probably more.

A handful of teams will send reps to Indianapolis knowing a quarterback pickup resides as the centerpiece of their respective offseason plans. It is likely one such club — presumably a team that does not hold a top-three draft choice that could address a deficiency without trading up — will end up with Fields. That team will, then, need to make a decision on the 2021 No. 11 overall pick’s fifth-year option by May 2. An acquiring team could still have Fields tied to a $6MM cap number in 2024, providing some additional evaluation time.

This situation still reminds of a higher-profile version of the Jets’ 2021 outlook. The Jets did not, however, pull the trigger on moving Sam Darnold until April 5, 2021. While some in the organization backed a plan in which the team would keep Darnold, Zach Wilson became the team’s eventual preference. That swap involved a No. 2 overall pick, as the Jaguars held the top choice that year (Trevor Lawrence). The Bears having the No. 1 pick and Williams access further decreases the likelihood they will stick with a QB that still carries significant questions regarding his future as a passer.

Moving Fields before free agency would stand to boost the trade return, as more teams will need passers by then compared to the Bears following the Jets’ 2021 timetable. New York’s plan obviously backfired, though Darnold has not shown himself to be a long-term starter option elsewhere. But Chicago has the rare opportunity to add an impact talent at No. 1, pick up assets for its starter and use the No. 9 overall pick to bolster its roster around Williams. The 2022 Heisman winner will be tied to a rookie contract until at least 2026, giving the Bears some interesting opportunities — should they go this route as expected. Poles passing on the 2023 and ’24 QB classes to stick with Fields could certainly threaten his job security, should the Ryan Pace-era draftee fail to match the likes of Williams and C.J. Stroud.

Customary in situations involving uncertainty about a player’s future with a team, Fields has unfollowed the Bears on Instagram (h/t the New York Post). Such developments barely qualify as newsworthy anymore, given the rate at which disgruntled players go to this well. But it is certainly possible Fields is dealt before the legal tampering period begins March 11. That will give at least one team QB clarity ahead of a market that may well feature Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield respectively re-sign with the Vikings and Buccaneers.

The Falcons, Raiders and Steelers profile as teams who would make sense as Fields suitors. Atlanta has already been connected to the Georgia native, despite passing on him for Kyle Pitts at No. 4 overall three years ago. Mike Tomlin has been mentioned as a Fields fan, though a recent report indicated Pittsburgh is not likely to target a passer who would displace Kenny Pickett atop the depth chart. The team is eyeing a competition between Pickett and a veteran. The Raiders now have Luke Getsy in place as OC, and the two-year Bears play-caller has praised Fields. But Antonio Pierce‘s team also has been closely tied to Jayden Daniels, due to the new Las Vegas HC’s past at Arizona State with the 2023 Heisman winner.

With concerns about the 2025 QB draft class emerging, a team removing itself from that future pursuit — via a Fields trade — makes sense. So long as the acquiring club is convinced Fields’ 2023 development is a sign he can be a long-term option. That mystery team may reveal itself soon.

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