Bears Expected to Part Ways with $19 Million Star at the Conclusion of the Season
BY V. CARBONNEAU DECEMBER 2, 2023 (10:31 PM)
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, speaking on the Mully & Haugh Show on December 1, predicted that the Bears will part ways with quarterback Justin Fields this spring.
"As I evaluate the situation, it appears to be heading in that direction," Biggs stated. "There are five games remaining, so he has an opportunity to alter the course of this, but the assessment at Halas Hall will be based on the entire season, not just how people felt on December 1."
If Chicago does decide to move on from Fields after three years together, it implies two things. Firstly, the team will likely select a quarterback at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft, and secondly, they may trade Fields, potentially for a first-round pick.
General Manager Ryan Poles opted not to draft CJ Stroud last April, who has now become a prominent figure in the MVP conversation as a rookie. Instead, Poles' trade brought the Bears wide receiver DJ Moore and what seems to be the No. 1 pick in the next year's draft from the Carolina Panthers. At that time, Fields seemed to be on track for a potential MVP-worthy season in 2023, so the decision appeared reasonable.
However, if Poles repeats the same mistake in 2024 by passing on Caleb Williams and/or Drake Maye, and Fields fails to progress as a passer, there may be discussions of it being a "fireable offense."
The pressure of such widespread perceptions, as mentioned by Courtney Cronin, could influence Poles' decision to part ways with Fields and reset the quarterback situation. This move would eliminate the prospect of committing substantial funds to a quarterback for the next several years, providing financial flexibility to a team with significant cap space heading into 2024.
Moving on from Fields would also allow the Bears to regain a draft pick, potentially better than the early 2024 second-rounder they traded to acquire edge-rusher Montez Sweat from the Washington Commanders.
Fields was selected by Chicago with the No. 11 pick in the 2021 draft. While his passing development may not have met initial expectations in 2023, he still possesses a strong arm and is arguably the most dynamic rushing quarterback in the NFL. He will be just 25 years old next season and will play on a contract with controlled salary for the next two years if the team that holds his rights exercises the fifth-year team option on his initial four-year, $19 million rookie deal.
Fields' potential, age, and contract are likely to command a first-round pick in a trade, even if he finishes the season inconsistently, given the high demand for quarterbacks in the league.
Ultimately, Poles faces a risk whether he decides to part ways with Fields or keep him. However, considering the organization's circumstances, moving on from Fields appears to be the safer and more logical choice.