The Bears would fetch far more by trading the No. 1 overall pick than by trading Justin Fields. Though, other advantages — the prospect value of Caleb Williams and having at least three more years of a rookie contract to build around — still look to be pointing the Bears in the direction of starting over.
While headlines did surface in the pro-Fields direction, they have largely been blunted by the other QB route Chicago can take. Views around the NFL still lend toward Fields being on the move. The consensus at the Senior Bowl centered on the Bears trading Fields, according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi.
After trading the No. 1 pick last year — for a bounty that included D.J. Moore and what turned out to be this year’s top choice — the Bears should not be expected, barring an extraordinary development, to move out of the top slot again, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs notes. This would almost definitely mean drafting Williams at No. 1.
Kliff Kingsbury‘s Commanders OC hire has invited speculation about a reunion between the recent USC quarterbacks coach and his prized pupil, though the parties only worked together for several months. This would only be relevant if the Bears show a willingness to pass on Williams and take the next-best quarterback at 2. This would be an obvious risk given Williams’ prospect profile.
The concept of the Bears trading down and still grabbing a quarterback represents a farfetched scenario, Biggs adds, though if the team place near-equal grades on the top two prospects, it is conceivable it would entertain a trade-down maneuver. Still, Biggs classifies the prospect of Chicago moving down as “remote.” The team that passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson for Mitch Trubisky will naturally face pressure to nail its upcoming QB decision and find the franchise-level option that has eluded the organization since at least Jim McMahon.
Moving down and being comfortable enough with Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels would be a fascinating call by the Bears, who would then have assets from a Fields trade and from moving down one spot on the board. Then again, Ryan Poles did not draft Fields. Passing on the likes of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud and then punting on the Williams draft slot would invite scrutiny on Poles, despite his shrewd move to pick up assets from the Panthers. How the Commanders grade the top QB prospects will naturally determine their interest level in moving up to 1. Williams, per The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain, should still be expected to go first overall — as he has for months.
Fields’ marginal improvement, which led to a lukewarm Poles postseason endorsement (after the GM built his 2023 offseason around Fields developing), and the Commanders’ Kingsbury hire may be tertiary matters regarding the upcoming draft. The Bears’ access to Williams remains the lead story. Fields has shown generational gifts as a runner but has not developed into a passer that would, in the eyes of most, make it a genuine debate between a path with him or Williams as Chicago’s QB1. Fields’ penchant for bailing on plays early frustrated some with the Bears, Giardi adds. He finished this season 23rd in QBR.
After Fields did not move the Bears into playoff contention during his rookie contract, the Bears — or, in all likelihood, another team — must decide on the 2021 first-rounder’s fifth-year option by May. As Fields is set to become more expensive soon, the Bears would have the luxury of keeping Williams on a rookie deal through at least 2026. Williams can be tied to his rookie pact through 2028 via his own fifth-year option.
A December breakdown pegged Fields’ trade value modestly, indicating the Bears would be likely to receive proposals headlined by a Day 2 pick. It would be interesting to see if the Raiders showed interest in the three-year vet, given Fields’ up-and-down tenure alongside Luke Getsy. But Las Vegas is a team in need at the position; that need has since brought the Daniels-Antonio Pierce connection back to the surface. While the Vikings and Broncos also carry needs and reside in similar draft territory (Nos. 11 and 12), Fields would not seem a fit for either Sean Payton or Kevin O’Connell‘s offenses. Now that the Falcons have hired Sean McVay disciple Zac Robinson as OC, Fields’ Atlanta fit may not be optimal. Then again, teams holding picks outside the top three may need to get creative — especially those that do not land Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield.
Arthur Smith revamped his offense for Marcus Mariota in 2022, and although the Steelers have Kenny Pickett tentatively installed back atop their depth chart, how Pittsburgh goes about adding competition will be worth monitoring. A Fields trade would not seemingly be competition-focused but rather a move aimed at landing a surefire starter.