Justin Fields has an opportunity to set himself up for a massive payday from the Chicago Bears if he delivers a breakout season in 2023, but the 2021 first-round pick isn’t worrying about a potential contract extension — only about winning.
Fields spoke with media following May 23’s second OTA practice of the offseason and was asked whether the “stakes are higher” in terms of his development for 2023 due to the fact that he will be eligible for a new contract extension once the season ends.
After emphasizing that “every year is a big year,” Fields made it clear when pressed that a contract extension is the furthest thing from his mind heading into Year 3 in Chicago.
“I’m not worried about contracts, I’m worried about wins,” Fields said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “I could care less [about a contract extension].
Fields is set to earn about $11.1 million over the next two years of his rookie contract with the Bears holding a fifth-year option as a possibility for the 2025 season. He could enter the conversation for a high-priced extension with a breakout year, though, similar to what Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts did in 2022, going from doubted starter to MVP contender and earning a record-breaking $255 million extension from the Eagles.
Justin Fields Could Define Future With Bears in 2023
Contracts aside, Fields will be heading into a defining third season with the Bears in 2023 that could solidify him as the franchise quarterback they believe him to be — or force them to consider a change if he is unable to show meaningful growth as a passer.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles has done a better job of surrounding him with new weapons, including star wide receiver D.J. Moore and first-round right tackle Darnell Wright, than he did in 2022 when the focus was more on shedding pricey contracts. The Bears also added a new starting right guard in Nate Davis, restocked their backfield with D’Onta Foreman, rookie Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer to replace David Montgomery and drafted fourth-rounder Tyler Scott to boost their receiving depth.
Now, the onus is on Fields to prove that prioritizing his development wasn’t a waste. The 24-year-old established himself as one of the most dangerous rushing quarterbacks in the league in 2022, using his legs to score eight touchdowns and gain the second-most ground yards (1,143) ever by an NFL quarterback. But in terms of his short-pass accuracy and the overall speed of his reads/decision-making, there is work to be done.
“It’s the first season I’m going into where it’s my second year knowing the offense, so definitely feel more comfortable in it, just with my reads and stuff like that, just seeing what the defense is doing and stuff like that,” Fields said Tuesday. “It’s truly amazing when you have that feeling going in, knowing where your guys are going to be, more comfortable with the footwork stuff. It’s been great.”
Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert in Line for New Contracts
Before Fields and his 2021 class of quarterbacks — including Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones — become eligible to negotiate new contracts with their respective teams, there are two more quarterbacks who could shift the market with their impending extensions.
The first is Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft who nearly helped the Bengals win their first Super Bowl after the 2021 season. Pro Football Focus projects Burrow to sign a four-year, $214 million contract with the Bengals that would reset the market in terms of average annual value ($53 million), and the Bengals would be foolish not to throw him the bag after he contended for the MVP the past two years.
Justin Herbert is the other big quarterback extension candidate out of the 2020 class. The Los Angeles Chargers have not experienced the same success with Herbert under center as the Bengals have with Burrow, but the arm talent is hard to dispute and well worth making him one of the higher-paid quarterbacks in the league. PFF projects Herbert’s new contract to come in just behind Burrow’s at four years, $208 million — or $52 million annually.
Other quarterbacks from the 2020 class who could sign relevant contract extensions include Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and Green Bay’s Jordan Love; although, the latter did sign a one-year extension worth up to $22.5 million with the Packers this offseason.