Home Sports The Justin Fields trade market: Which teams might be interested and what could Bears get?

The Justin Fields trade market: Which teams might be interested and what could Bears get?

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The Justin Fields trade market: Which teams might be interested and what could Bears get?

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A year ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles announced that his team was open for business — the first pick in the 2023 draft was available.

“We need a lot, and that (first pick) gives us more opportunity to bring in more players,” Poles said then. “It’s a good situation to be in for where our club is.”

The combine then became an information-gathering mission for Poles and the Bears. They needed to do their due diligence on the quarterback class, which included interviews with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

But Poles also needed to leave Indianapolis with an accurate gauge of the trade market for the first pick — and he got it. A few days after the combine concluded, the Bears traded the first pick to the Carolina Panthers.

The goals for Poles at this year’s combine should be similar. The Bears will meet with the best quarterbacks: USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and potentially others.

And then Poles also will have trade markets to feel out through his conversations with other GMs. Similar to last year, one market could be for the first pick. Another could be for current starter Justin Fields.

For Poles and the Bears, what’s the greater risk? Is it sticking with a quarterback who has the belief of his teammates but still ranks in the bottom third in the league in many statistical areas? Or is it passing on the best QBs in the draft for the second year in a row?

Which teams could be interested in Fields?

According to NFL.com, 66 quarterbacks started for teams during the 2023 season. That’s a lot. But two more started for teams during the 2022 season. That’s wild.

Teams are always looking for quarterbacks — and some won’t be able to find answers in free agency or in the draft. Unlike other teams, the Bears have certainty with the first pick.

There were 12 quarterbacks included in Randy Mueller’s rankings of the top 150 free agents for The Athletic. Only two of them — the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Baker Mayfield — made the top 20. San Francisco 49ers backup Sam Darnold was next at No. 98.

The trade market comes next. Teams will seek certainty at the most important position in sports heading into the draft. There could be a competitive market for Fields.

With the help of The Athletic’s beat writers, here are five potential trade partners to consider as the NFL world descends on Indianapolis next week.

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Atlanta Falcons

New Falcons offensive coordinator Zac Robinson didn’t give away much when talking about what the team wants in its next quarterback.

“Whether it’s a pocket guy, whether it’s a guy who can move around a little bit, we’re just going to be looking for the best guy,” Robinson said.

However, the fact Robinson has spent his entire career under Rams coach Sean McVay in Los Angeles suggests he’s looking for a Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford type. Fields’ big arm will appeal to Robinson, though. Robinson said the first thing he looks for is “how somebody throws the football and what that looks like.”

Whether the Falcons pursue Fields may simply come down to options. They don’t have a clear path to their next quarterback considering they pick eighth in the first round, and Atlanta isn’t one of the league’s top free-agency destinations. — Josh Kendall


The Broncos witnessed the full Justin Fields experience at Soldier Field in October as he put up big numbers but made a couple of critical mistakes late. (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Denver Broncos

Sean Payton saw Fields at his best when the Broncos visited the Bears in Week 4 last season. Fields completed 28 of 35 passes for 335 yards and a career-high four touchdowns (a total he would match the next week). But in a narrow Bears loss, Fields also lost a fumble that was returned for a Broncos touchdown and threw an interception on Chicago’s final drive, sealing the defeat.

After voicing frustration with Russell Wilson’s inability to protect the football during key stretches last season, I don’t see the Broncos giving up significant draft capital for a quarterback in Fields who, while younger and more athletic than Wilson, hasn’t been able to fully address his ball-security issues.

If the Broncos are going to move draft capital in a deal to acquire a quarterback, it is more likely to be a move for a rookie Payton can mold in his offense, even if that means the player has to sit for a season behind Jarrett Stidham. — Nick Kosmider

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Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders are very unlikely to pursue Fields because they hired the offensive coordinator who was fired after working with him in Chicago last season.

Luke Getsy was selected by the Raiders because of his work as passing game coordinator with the Packers and his run-game concepts with the Bears, as the Raiders decided the biggest problem with the Bears offense the last two seasons was the quarterback and not the offensive coordinator. Getsy also worked with Raiders receiver Davante Adams in Green Bay. — Vic Tafur

New England Patriots

The Patriots are exploring all options for upgrading their quarterback situation, even if the most likely avenue means using the No. 3 pick on the position. But they could be tempted to draft Marvin Harrison Jr., arguably the best wide receiver prospect of the last decade. So perhaps there’s an argument for trading for Fields and using that top pick on Harrison, immediately upgrading both quarterback and wide receiver — arguably the two biggest weaknesses on the roster.

Even if it seems the Pats are more likely to pursue a quarterback with their third pick, if those to-be picks (likely Maye and Daniels) underwhelm in interviews at the combine, perhaps the Patriots would consider parting with their third-round pick (No. 68) for Fields. — Chad Graff

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Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have two paths they can take at quarterback: Hope new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith can unlock something in Kenny Pickett the NFL hasn’t seen or look for an upgrade elsewhere.

While the Rooney family is known for taking a patient approach, general manager Omar Khan has done business with the Bears before, and Fields may be the most realistic of the outside options. Fields’ mobility would add another wrinkle to the run-heavy scheme Smith is likely to install, and the former Buckeye’s big arm would showcase the skill set of underutilized deep threat George Pickens. The quarterback would also be backed by what’s projected to be the NFL’s highest-paid defense, so he wouldn’t be asked to be a finished product right away.

But what’s the price? If you’re giving up something to get him, it’s probably prudent to double down by picking up the estimated $23.3 million fifth-year option in May. Beyond that, and maybe most significantly, the Steelers would have to be ready to punt on Pickett. That’s a big bet for a quarterback the Bears aren’t sold on just three years after giving up four picks to get him. — Mike DeFabo

How would a trade play out?

Last year, the New York Jets went all in. They traded for Aaron Rodgers.

In 2022, the Broncos pushed in all their chips. They acquired Russell Wilson.

A team that’s interested in Fields and then acquires him in a trade with the Bears wouldn’t be doing the same. It could be hedging its bets at the position, not solely betting on Fields.

Fields’ situation also looks different from the Panthers’ desperate decision to acquire Darnold from the Jets in 2021 for a sixth-round pick in that draft and second- and fourth-rounders in 2022. The Panthers then guaranteed his fifth-year option.

Those three trades, though, happened before the draft. That’s important. Some QB-needy teams will seek clarity before the unpredictability of the draft. Other teams might be more compelled to wait until the draft.

Poles’ plan will have to be flexible, but only to a certain point. The Bears have complimented Fields since the season ended. Poles, coach Matt Eberflus and president/CEO Kevin Warren have all done it. But that could be viewed as an attempt to create leverage in trade conversations that could be coming their way in Indianapolis.

For all of his physical gifts and glimpses of potential stardom, Fields’ numbers tell you not to pick up his fifth-year option for the 2025 season.

Among qualified QBs, Fields finished the 2023 season 29th in completion percentage, 23rd in passing yards per game, 22nd in passer rating, 24th in QBR, 26th in adjusted net yards per attempt, 31st in sack percentage and 22nd in interception rate (according to Pro Football Reference). His numbers on third downs, in the fourth quarter and in late-game situations don’t inspire much confidence, either.

As always, more context is required. The Bears, as an organization, should be blamed for his failures as much, if not more, than he is. But the situation is what it is. The Bears built in the option to pivot from Fields if needed.

Fields, though, could still be the best option for other teams after free agency and before the draft. The difference between the Bears and those teams is that they have the first pick. The draft still starts with them.

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(Top photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)



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