The Chicago Bears wrapped their 2022 season last Sunday, and it concluded with them owning the No.1 overall pick.
It took all of 24 hours for the conversation to be shifted to why the Bears should trade Justin Fields and use the first overall pick to take Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Whether or not the Bears should trade Fields is another conversation for another time. What this piece is meant to do is break down what exactly a Fields trade would look like, and who the potential suitors would be.
What compensation would Fields garner?
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A ton of young quarterbacks have been dealt in the midst of their rookie deals, or shortly after being extended by the team in which they were drafted.
After being drafted by the New York Jets in 2018, Sam Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2021 for a sixth-round pick, as well as second and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft. His fellow draft classmate, Baker Mayfield, was also dealt to the Panthers in 2022 for a conditional draft pick in 2024 that will end up being a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Both Darnold and Mayfield were dealt in the midst of their rookie deals. When Carson Wentz was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts, he had already been extended by the Eagles. Philadelphia received a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional first-round pick for the former No. 2 overall pick. The quarterback who was taken with the pick before him, Jared Goff, was traded from the Rams to the Lions. Detroit sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams, and received Goff, a 2021 third-round pick, and the Rams’ first round pick in 2022 and 2023.
The most relatable and similar example of Fields’ situation would be that of Josh Rosen. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, and traded during the 2019 NFL draft after the Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray with the first overall pick. The Cardinals sent Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for the No. 62 pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
Rosen’s situation in 2019 is one to pay attention to when it comes to the parallels for what could unfold. Rosen was going into his second season, while Fields will be going into his third. Kliff Kingsbury, who didn’t draft Rosen, said that Rosen was their guy going forward. Bears GM Ryan Poles didn’t even do that. When asked if Fields was their guy going forward, Poles said that the Bears were going to “evaluate the draft class.”
Now, this can just be seen as a GM trying to drive up the price of the No. 1 pick in an effort to trade down- fair point. However, it does raise eyebrows and leaves the door open to the Bears moving on from Fields after just two seasons. The most important thing to remember, though, is that Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus didn’t draft Fields.
Could they move him if they really like Bryce Young or another one of the top quarterbacks in the draft? Absolutely. In terms of what he would go for on the trade market, Mike Tannenbaum suggested a combination of a first and third-round pick could get the job done. While that is all speculation and hearsay, that feels like a solid estimate when comparing what other quarterbacks in Fields’ situation have gone for when you compare his talents to the others.
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By my count, there could be up to 12 non-NFC North teams in need of a quarterback in 2023. That list is as follows: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.
Of the teams on that list, let’s rule out teams that are “on the brink,” if you will. Teams that are a quarterback away from being really good playoff teams, and will look for proven veterans. That takes off the Jets, Commanders, Buccaneers and Dolphins.
We can also piece together what teams have too many holes, and can’t afford to give up the draft capital and will look to build organically. Scratch off the Saints, Texans and Colts. The latter of the two seem imminent on drafting a guy anyway, so there really is no need for them to be in on Fields while they are in the midst of their own rebuilds.
That leaves us with four teams: Falcons, Panthers, Titans and Ravens.
The Falcons and Panthers are in somewhat similar boats. Both play in the same bad division and were in the playoff race late in the season. Arthur Smith’s style of offense in Atlanta would fit Fields like a glove, and he is better than Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder. They need other pieces, especially defensively, but they are certainly an option.
The Panthers have a far more put together team than Atlanta, and you could argue that they are only a quarterback away from being one of those really good teams mentioned earlier. That said, they are in search of a new head coach. If whomever they hire is high on Fields and his potential, they could give the Bears a call.
That brings us to the final two – the Titans and Ravens. The Titans are in a position where they can trade Ryan Tannehill, and it does feel like the right time to do so. They have peaked as a team with him under center, and he is a sneaky 35-year-old. Why not move him for a mid-round pick, and go get a guy who, with the right coach, could become a star. Mike Vrabel gets the best out of his players, maybe more so than any coach in the league.
After moving on from general manager John Robinson, and firing several assistants following the season finale against Jacksonville, this feels like a new dawn for the Titans. What better way to begin this new chapter than with a new, young quarterback? Plus, can you imagine a running attack with Justin Fields and Derrick Henry? Tennessee should absolutely be pondering this.
Baltimore is the most interesting poker chip in all of this. It seems imminent that the Ravens and Lamar Jackson will part ways this offseason. The most likely path to that taking place will be Baltimore placing the franchise tag on Jackson before shipping him to another team, and getting a lot of draft capital in the process. Who’s to say that Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh don’t look at Fields the same way they looked at a younger Lamar Jackson.
The similarities are certainly there – a gifted runner who is still very raw and needs to make strides as a passer. The Greg Roman offense allows the Ravens to do what they did with Jackson, which was let him use his legs, and build the offense around what he does best. This also gave Jackson time to become a more polished passer. While he isn’t an elite thrower, and is still limited, he made tremendous strides to become the solid passer that he is.
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Will Fields be traded? Will the Bears trade down and hold onto their dynamic playmaker? Is this all smoke and mirrors that we will spend the next several months discussing? Who knows. Time will tell, but there is certainly precedent for this. While it may not seem likely right now that Fields is in a different uniform in 2023, we have certainly seen stranger things happen. Until everything does unfold, though, all we can do is wait and see where the wind takes the team from the windy city.