The Chicago Bears are in a unique position this offseason. They have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and the most salary cap in the league, meaning they essentially control the draft and free agency.
Presumably, they aren’t looking for a quarterback considering they have Justin Fields — for whom they traded up in the first round of the 2021 draft. That gives them leverage to trade the top pick to a quarterback-needy team such as the Houston Texans or the Indianapolis Colts for an impressive haul.
However, it might not be a sure thing that Fields is the guy in 2023. Could the Bears stun the NFL world and trade their electric young quarterback?
“What I’m hearing out of Chicago is they’re finna package [Fields] up, trade him for some other pieces and then go with the Bryce [Young] kid from Alabama,” NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp said on The Bret Boone Podcast. “… Trust me. There’s smoke everywhere talking about trading Justin Fields and going after Bryce.”
Breaking down Justin Fields’ two seasons with the Chicago Bears
Fields just wrapped up his second season with the Bears and made many highlight-reel plays as he rushed for 1,143 yards — just missing out on the single-season record — and eight touchdowns in addition to his 2,242 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns. However, he threw for 11 interceptions, and his arm has been the brunt of plenty of criticism.
However, his supporting cast needs a significant upgrade, especially with wide receivers who can create separation to get open and an offensive line that can protect him. But that hasn’t stopped speculation about the Bears potentially trading Fields and selecting Bryce Young out of Alabama with the top pick. It’s also worth noting Bears general manager Ryan Poles didn’t draft Fields; former GM Ryan Pace did before his firing after the 2021 season.
Trading Fields would allow Chicago to get more weapons already in the league and a franchise quarterback to build around on a rookie contract. That was Sapp’s argument when talking about what he’s heard.
“When you have got a lot of weapons and you only have one pick, what do you do? You trade away that one thing you have for a couple weapons, and then you get a much more capable thrower of the ball,” Sapp said.
Although Fields hasn’t put up great passing numbers in the NFL, he had an impressive career at Ohio State after transferring from Georgia. In 2019, he threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns to finish third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Then, in the eight-game COVID-19 season in 2020, he threw for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns to help Ohio State to the national championship. His wide receivers that year were Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams — who were the Nos. 10-12 picks, respectively, in the 2022 NFL Draft.