Polarizing Ex-Bills QB Back on NFL Roster After Justin Fields Injury

Nathan Peterman

Getty Nathan Peterman #2 of the Buffalo Bills is hit as he throws by Danny Trevathan #59 of the Chicago Bears at New Era Field on November 4, 2018.

One of the most controversial quarterbacks in Buffalo Bills history could be one injury away from a return to NFL action.

The Chicago Bears on Saturday elevated veteran signal-caller Nathan Peterman to their active roster, a sign that starting quarterback Justin Fields may be out for their game against the New York Jets. Peterman had bounced around the league after leaving the Bills in 2018, and would be slated to serve as Chicago’s No. 2 if Fields is unable to play.

Bears Elevate Peterman

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported on Saturday that the Bears elevated Peterman from their practice squad, a likely indication that Fields has not recovered from the dislocated shoulder he suffered against the Atlanta Falcons last week. Veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian would be slated to start if Fields is out, while Peterman could serve as the backup.

Bills fans remember Peterman for his controversial tenure with the team between 2017 and 2018. Midway through his first season as head coach in 2017, Sean McDermott benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of the rookie Peterman, leading to one of the worst quarterback performances in NFL history.

Peterman threw five interceptions in 14 attempts against the Los Angeles Chargers — all in the first half. Peterman was benched at halftime and Taylor returned to action for the rest of the game, and remained the starter for the remainder of the season as the Bills finished 9-7 and ended their 17-year playoff drought.

Taylor was traded that offseason and the Bills drafted Josh Allen, but it was the second-year Peterman who initially won the starting job in training camp. As Jared Dubin of CBS Sports noted, the second chance didn’t go much better than the first.

“Again, things went disastrously,” he wrote. “Peterman started Buffalo’s first game of the season, completing just five of 18 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions against the Ravens. He was benched in favor of Allen and took his place on the bench.”

After Allen suffered an elbow injury that sidelined him for three games, the Bills signed veterans Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley and would release Peterman later that season. He went on to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders where he remained for two seasons before signing with the Bears this offseason.

Peterman has a 1-3 lifetime record, completing 52.6% of his passes for 573 total yards. His interception percentage is among the worst in league history, throwing three touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

Fields Could Sit on Sunday

With the Bears nearing playoff elimination at 3-8, the team may be cautious in its approach with Fields and keep him out until healthy again.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on November 23 that the injury is potentially serious, and that it was unclear whether Fields could suit up on Sunday against the Jets.

“#Bears QB Justin Fields describes his left shoulder injury as a separated shoulder with torn ligaments — ‘basically an AC joint injury.’ It was described to me on Monday as a dislocation that can cause torn ligaments. Fields far from 100% going forward, with his status TBD,” Rapoport tweeted.