Bears GM Ryan Poles wants 'to do right by' Justin Fields if the QB is traded

The Chicago Bears face perhaps the biggest decision of the NFL offseason in what to do at quarterback.

They have two choices: Keep Justin Fields, or trade him and select a new quarterback with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

General manager Ryan Poles addressed the pending decision Tuesday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Here's what he said when asked if the Bears intend to trade Fields prior to the start of free agency if they ultimately decide to deal him.

"It just depends on what opportunities pop up," Poles said. "... If we do go down that road, I want to do right by Justin as well. No one wants to live in gray. I know that's uncomfortable. I wouldn't want to be in that situation either.

"We'll gather the information. We'll move as quickly as possible. We're not gonna be in a rush and see what presents itself and what's best for the organization."

While it's not a commitment to deal him before free agency, Poles basically acknowledged that doing so would be optimal for all parties involved. Waiting for free agency dominoes to fall limits the options for everyone. But the Bears aren't going to rush things.

If a trade before free agency ends up being the case, that decision is coming quick. Free agency officially starts March 13 with negotiations opening two days prior.

Will Justin Fields play again for the Chicago Bears? (John Fisher/Getty Images)
Will Justin Fields play again for the Chicago Bears? (John Fisher/Getty Images)

Eberflus addresses Fields

Head coach Matt Eberflus reiterated Poles' comments on Fields in an interview with SiriusXM Tuesday afternoon.

"As soon as we know, we're going to let him know," Eberflus said of the team's decision on Fields.

Eberflus also spoke in generalities about what he looks for in a quarterback when speaking with reporters.

"I look at situations," Eberflus said. I look at the guys that can operate third down, two-minute and the end of the game situations. To me that’s a separator.

"And then you look at toughness. Toughness for a quarterback really is about the mental toughness to be able to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball, and also to have the discernment to be able to move out of the pocket and create when it’s necessary."

Fields has support in Bears locker room

Fields is popular in Chicago. In the locker room, at least. He's yet to post a winning record with the Bears, but did lead them to a 5-3 finish this past season, his best as a pro.

No. 1 receiver DJ Moore said Monday that he doesn't believe that any of the top rookie prospects are better options than Fields.

"I still don't think they compare to Justin right now," Moore said, per NFL Network.

Poles on Tuesday acknowledged the internal support for Fields.

"He's a leader," Poles said. "Everything our guys have said is true. I'm not surprised our guys have said what they have said. I feel the same way."

So why would the Bears trade Fields? Even in his best NFL season, Chicago's passing offense ranked 27th in the NFL with 182.1 yards per game. Fields is a unique threat as a runner, but Chicago's not going to compete if he doesn't make strides as a passer.

The quarterbacks at the top of the draft — USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye — present tantalizing upside as NFL passers. For a franchise that hasn't had an All-Pro quarterback since Johnny Lujack in 1950, selecting one of those quarterbacks is an enticing option.

It's a difficult decision and one that will ultimately determine the fate of the franchise for years to come.