Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sends Buccaneers $18 Million Star Quarterback

Bruce Arians

Getty Bruce Arians is still involved with the Buccaneers front office.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face plenty of roadblocks to landing a new starting quarterback, but the Chicago Bears‘ Justin Fields is emerging as a potential trade candidate. Fields represents one of the few quarterbacks that can fit within the Bucs’ limited budget because he has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $18.8 million rookie contract. The Bears quarterback is slated to have a $1.1 million salary for 2023.

Fields would become expendable if the Bears, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft, opt to take a quarterback. The Draft Network’s JC Cornell offered an intriguing trade idea that has Tampa Bay landing Fields in exchange for the No. 19 pick.

“How would you feel about the Bucs dealing the 19th pick for Justin Fields?” Cornell tweeted on February 17, 2023. “I personally think he would be a great fit for [offensive coordinator Dave] Canales. Have some actual weapons and thrive in that offense. Just rumblings…”

To be fair, the Buccaneers would likely need to give up much more than the No. 19 selection in order to have a chance at trading for Fields. Cornell later appeared to discredit his own idea by noting it is “not happening” and suggesting the proposal was just a “fun idea.”

“Alright [never mind] on Justin Fields. Not happening. It was a fun idea,” Cornell followed up with a February 18 tweet.

The Bears Need to Be Blown Away by 2023 Quarterback Prospects to Trade Justin Fields

The specifics of Cornell’s deal may not have legs, but the idea of the Bucs being a fit for Fields is interesting. Tampa Bay has plenty of veteran stars, such as wideout Chris Godwin, whom the team could potentially add to sweeten the deal.

Fields, 23, posted 1,143 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in 2022, better numbers than most of the NFL’s running backs. He added 2,243 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 60.4% of his passes. It is Fields’ passing ability he needs to make the biggest leap.

Chicago may hold the No. 1 pick, but the team could stick with Fields choosing to either pick one of the top defensive stars or move the selection to a quarterback-needy team. According to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, the Bears would need to be “blown away” by one of the 2023 quarterback prospects in order to move on from Fields.

“Poles said he plans on Fields being the Bears’ starting quarterback in 2023, and he made it clear that despite having the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, the GM would have to be “blown away” by a prospect to select a quarterback and move on from Fields,” Cronin wrote on February 6.

“…[The Senior Bowl] was also an opportunity for informal conversations surrounding Chicago’s options with the No. 1 pick. With so many quarterback-needy teams slated to draft in the top 10 — namely Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Carolina — Poles is in prime position to remain firm on his commitment to Fields and trade back to garner more draft capital for other positions of need,” Cronin added.

“The reason Poles can feel confident in considering trading down is because of Fields’ improvement and potential. But there are areas in which the former No. 11 pick out of Ohio State still needs to develop.”

Kyle Trask Remains the Favorite to Be the Buccaneers’ Next Starting QB

If Fields does become available, the Buccaneers could be one of the first teams in line to make a run at the star quarterback. Tampa Bay is projected to be more than $55 million above the salary cap, likely taking them out of the market for a veteran like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo. If an affordable signal-caller like Fields does not emerge this offseason, the Bucs could lean on Kyle Trask or draft another quarterback.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler labeled Trask the favorite to be the Bucs QB1 in 2023, and Tampa Bay could wait until the 2024 draft to add their quarterback of the future. During his media rounds at the Super Bowl, Buccaneers front office advisor Bruce Arians expressed confidence in Trask as Tom Brady’s successor.

“When we decided three, four years ago, ‘Let’s look behind door No. 2. You never know who’s behind door No. 2,'” Arians said during a February 9 interview with CBS Sports’ “Maggie and Perloff.” “We’d never ever thought it was Tom Brady. I joked about it and I caught hell for it. But it’s like, you never know, but I love Kyle Trask.

“We drafted Kyle, he’s [sat] around with Tom [Brady] and Blaine Gabbert. He’s learned how to be a pro and he’s changed his body. He’s getting better and better, so I think we’re fine with him.”