Bears Projected to Net 1st-Rounder in Justin Fields Trade Package

Justin Fields NFL Trade Rumors Buccaneers

Getty Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

The Chicago Bears could end up settling for a Day 2 draft pick in exchange for quarterback Justin Fields if they opt to trade him before the 2024 NFL draft. At least one mock draft, though, projects they could pry away a first-round pick from a team if they are willing to “sweeten the deal” with a fourth-round selection.

NBC Sports Chicago’s Alex Shapiro recently put together a three-round mock draft for the Bears that featured multiple trades, including a move down to the No. 2 spot that netted them first-rounders in each of the next two years along with UNC’s Drake Maye.

The more notable of Shapiro’s two mock trades for Chicago, though, involved Fields and Tampa Bay. He projected the Bears could ship Fields and one of their two fourth-round picks (No. 122 overall) to the Buccaneers in exchange for the No. 26 overall pick.

“The Bucs exceeded expectations with Baker Mayfield in 2023, and that helped Mayfield bump up his value for 2024,” Shapiro wrote in his February 4 mock draft. “But the Bucs would rather pay a more dynamic QB in this mock draft universe and make a deal for Fields. The Bears send a fourth-round pick to Tampa Bay to sweeten the deal.”

Shapiro then has the Bears using the acquired pick to select Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin at No. 26, completing a first-round haul that would include both Maye at No. 2 and Illinois three-technique defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton at No. 9.

‘Feeling Around’ NFL is Bears Will Draft Rookie QB

Before diving into this scenario, it is important to remind everyone that Fields and the Bears are not guaranteed to be splitting up in 2024. The former Ohio State quarterback is under contract for next season, even if the Bears decline his fifth-year option in May, and could realistically keep his job if Chicago wants to trade the No. 1 pick for a haul.

That said, ESPN’s Adam Schefter told The Pat McAfee Show on February 5 that the “feeling around the league seems to be that they’ll wind up trading Justin.” He echoed what other insiders — such as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs — have reported about the Bears’ quarterback situation over the past week: that they are widely expected to use the No. 1 overall pick to draft USC’s Caleb Williams.

In other words, nothing is certain yet for the Bears, but the winds of change certainly seem to be suggesting that Fields will play for a new team during the 2024 season. And if that holds true, would it make sense for the Buccaneers to make a trade offer for him?

Would Justin Fields Trade Make Sense for Buccaneers?

The biggest offseason mystery for Tampa Bay right now is how the team is planning to proceed with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick had a resurgent year for the Buccaneers in 2023 and took them as far as the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. In theory, they could re-sign him on a multi-year deal and then go to work on reloading the roster around him to take another title shot over the next few seasons.

The price tag on Mayfield could ward them off, though. Pro Football Focus projects him to sign a three-year, $75 million contract in 2024 NFL free agency that would include $40 million guaranteed. The Buccaneers have a projected $33.6 million in effective cap space for 2024 and could afford to pay Mayfield at that price, but they may prefer to go younger and less expensive — which could bring them to the Bears and Fields.

Fields will only cost about $6 million against the cap for the Bears in 2024, and the Buccaneers could get him for even less if Chicago eats a bit of his contract to tempt them into giving up their first-rounder. The problem is unless the Buccaneers want to pick up Fields’ projected $21.9 million fifth-year option for 2025 in May, they would have to understand acquiring him is a one-year dice roll that could backfire on them.

Ultimately, if the Buccaneers believe their 2024 roster can contend for a title, they are more likely to choose consistency and re-up with Mayfield over trading for Fields.

Read More