Bears Projected to Trade Justin Fields for $10.4 Million Playmaker

Justin Fields Kyle Pitts Bears Rumors Trade

Getty Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

Justin Fields for Kyle Pitts and a draft pick? That’s one bold possibility that ESPN is putting forth as the Chicago Bears explore their options for the 2024 season.

In ESPN’s preview guide for the 2024 offseason, Aaron Schatz made a “big prediction” for each of the 32 teams and projected the Atlanta Falcons would acquire Fields from the Bears in exchange for Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

“The Falcons will use Pitts as part of a package to pry quarterback Justin Fields away from the Bears before Chicago uses the No. 1 overall pick on a new starting quarterback,” Schatz wrote in the Falcons’ section.

Belief around the league that the Bears will use the No. 1 overall pick on a new quarterback — likely USC’s Caleb Williams — has continued to build as the February 29 start of the NFL Scouting Combine draws nearer. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned in his February 3 Senior Bowl notes that “most people I talked to … expect” the Bears to keep the No. 1 pick.

If the Bears take a quarterback with the pick, though, they will need to figure out which team is willing to make the biggest trade offer for Fields. The Falcons, who threw as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns in 2023 and ranked 28th in the league in completion percentage, could certainly make a compelling case for a new quarterback.

Falcons Face 5th-Year Option Decision on Kyle Pitts

The Falcons have until May 2 to decide on picking up Pitts’ fifth-year option for the 2025 season. Since racking up 1,026 receiving yards and making the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, Pitts has been mostly a disappointment ever since.

His production has not lived up to the expectations that come with being a top-5 draft pick, and some have criticized the way the team used Pitts under head coach Arthur Smith, who was fired in early January.

Over the Cap projects Pitts’ fifth-year option to be worth about $10.56 million. The Falcons are already on the hook for a similar cap charge — about $10.47 million — in 2024 during the final year of his rookie contract, but they could nearly halve that number to roughly $5.3 million if they traded him before June 1.

There is also a debate about whether Pitts should be classified as a tight end or wide receiver in terms of his fifth-year option. The 23-year-old has lined up in the slot on 49.6% of his snaps and spent another 30% of his snaps out wide, according to Pro Football Focus. If the NFL agrees to let him classify as a receiver, Atlanta would have to prepare to pay him even more money than projected during his 2025 option year.

Bears Could Use Kyle Pitts as Big-Bodied Possession WR

A hypothetical where the Bears trade Fields for a tight end might not seem all that enticing at first glance, but Pitts is more exceptional than the average tight end.

At 6-foot-6, 247 pounds, Pitts spends more time playing like a big-bodied wide receiver than a traditional in-line tight end. The Bears could greatly benefit from adding a pass-catcher with his skill set, especially after Chase Claypool flamed out. They could also use the tight end depth with Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis on their way to free agency when the new league year begins on March 13.

The Bears also have their rookie quarterback to think about in this scenario. DJ Moore is a terrific No. 1 option to have and Cole Kmet has established himself as a high-quality, reliable starting tight end over the past two seasons, but Pitts would add another dynamic wrinkle to Shane Waldron’s reconstructed Bears offense in 2024, especially if the Bears add more receiving talent through free agency or the draft.

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