Bears Float New Plan for QB Justin Fields, Top Draft Pick: Report

Justin Fields, Bears

Getty QB Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears may not be finished with quarterback Justin Fields just yet.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the Bears have had serious internal discussions about keeping Fields on the roster and going ahead with drafting a quarterback first overall, most likely Caleb Williams of USC.

“They have talked about the idea, as unlikely as it seems, of carrying both quarterbacks,” Schefter said on the February 11 edition of Sunday NFL Countdown, per SleeperNFL. “Taking the guy at [No. 1] and keeping Fields. Now, will they get to that? It’s hard to imagine that. But that is a conversation that has come up within the organization.”

NFL Precedent Exists for Bears Keeping QB Justin Fields and Drafting Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams Bears Rumors Justin Fields

GettyUSC quarterback Caleb Williams is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

The move, while non-conventional to say the least, has some precedent in the NFL.

Rex Ryan, the former head coach the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills turned ESPN analyst, laid out the history on Sunday. However, he made a case for why it may not make sense in Chicago in the same breath.

“You know, it’s funny, the Dallas Cowboys actually did that [with] Steve Walsh and Troy Aikman, so we’ve seen it done before,” Ryan said in response to Schefter’s report. “The thing that’s crazy though is, look, what you hear outside is [Williams] is the closest prospect to Patrick Mahomes that we’ve ever seen. Now if that’s the case, please … don’t compare this guy to Bryce Young. Six first-round picks wouldn’t be worth it if you can get a Patrick Mahomes.”

The Mahomes comparison from Ryan is interesting on the day the quarterback captured the third Super Bowl championship of his career. Mahomes has been the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, though he played a backup role during his rookie season to the fourth man on the Countdown set Sunday — quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith, then 33 years old, threw for north of 4,000 yards, 26 TDs and 5 INTs for the Chiefs and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl during Mahomes’ first year in the league (2017). Head coach Andy Reid went to Mahomes as the starter the next season despite the year Smith had just produced.

The Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Commanders that offseason for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller who started 15 games for Kansas City the following year and is still a starter in the league (now back with Washington).

Keeping Justin Fields Could Increase Trade Value for Bears, Ease Learning Curve for Caleb Williams

Justin Fields, Bears

GettyQuarterback Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.

That could be a viable path for Williams, the closest thing the league has seen to a Mahomes-type prospect in seven years, for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s unclear if Mahomes truly needed a year to learn the NFL game and the Chiefs’ offensive system, but Reid believed he did and the added time to the QB’s learning curve certainly hasn’t hurt him over the past six seasons.

Secondly, the Bears will do whatever they can to get a first-round pick for Fields in trade. The line on the three-year starter is that he’s worth a second-rounder in value. However, legitimate starting quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, even in the NFL. Several starters every year aren’t players with whom a team can reasonably expect to contend for a championship.

Fields has natural gifts as a passer and a rusher that exceed most of his NFL peers. If Chicago can find the right partner, the franchise should be able to get first-round value for that type of player entering his age-25 season in 2024.

Talking like they’re going to keep Fields if the right offer doesn’t come along could be a tactic by the Bears, a move that wouldn’t be unprecedented in the league.

“We are entering smokescreen season by these teams, and there’s no way they keep Caleb Williams and they also have Justin Fields on the roster,”ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said Sunday. “Something is happening here. A trade is gonna be worked. Fields is moved, or they’re taking Caleb No. 1. There’s no way. That’s smokescreen all over the place.”

“No, no, no. It’s not smokescreen,” Schefter responded. “They’ve talked about it. I’m not telling you they’re doing it. But hey’ve talked about it. That’s not smokescreen, that’s a fact.”

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