Kurt Warner delivers powerful case for Bears to move on from Justin Fields originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAS VEGAS – Everyone has their own idea about what the Bears should do with quarterback Justin Fields this offseason.
With the No. 1 pick in his back pocket, general manager Ryan Poles faces a franchise-altering decision that will define his Chicago rebuild project: Will he stick with Fields or move on and draft Caleb Williams?
While there are countless opinions floating around Las Vegas about the direction the Bears should travel at quarterback, one Hall of Fame quarterback stood out Thursday.
“They are weighing a tough decision,” Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner told NBC Sports Chicago. “What I’ll say is when you get to the point, we’re at with quarterbacks in this league and what you have to pay them and what that means for your organization, you better know he’s the guy. That, to me, really is where teams get in trouble. Like the Giants go give Daniel Jones $40 million to Daniel Jones. He hasn’t shown us he’s that guy. We can hope he’s that guy. We’ve seen glimpses maybe, but he hasn’t shown us he’s that guy. So, the Giants are behind the eight-ball because he’s still not that guy. Maybe he will be in three years, but he’s not right now. So, they pay him.
“I think the thing with Justin for me is, he hasn’t shown me he’s that guy. Doesn’t mean he’s not talented. Doesn’t mean he can’t be great and a franchise quarterback. But when you have three years and you don’t take out the doubt to go, ‘He’s our guy!’ I think you have to move on. You can’t just go pay that guy $50 million in hopes that those glimpses you saw turn into greatness. It may be unfortunate because some of these guys play too early, they are not ready yet, their next step or their next contract is going to be determined by it. But that’s all we can go on. If you have played for three years, you have to prove to me you’re that guy.”
To Warner, it’s not just about what Fields has and hasn’t shown. It’s the unique and somewhat unfair situation he finds himself in with the Bears owning the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft via the Carolina Panthers.
“We have to put in the elements of, they’ve got the No. 1 pick,” Warner said. “It’s not like they got the 23rd pick and they are just going to go, ‘Oh, let’s just go get another quarterback.’ You got the pick of the litter if you believe Caleb Williams might be that guy. I think that’s the unfortunate thing for Justin, but again, he’s had three years. Not perfect situations. There’s a lot of elements involved. But I just haven’t seen the consistency of his play to go, ‘I think he can get there.’ Being unsure to me leads to you got to go get the other No. 1 pick and move forward.”
Fields has continued to improve despite landing in a terrible situation for a young quarterback. He has shown growth as a passer and is arguably second to none as a playmaker with his legs.
But he has continued to struggle with consistency as a passer and one at the bottom of the league in almost every notable fourth-quarter passing category.
Warner’s opinion should carry some weight. He has done a thorough evaluation of Fields through his work with NFL Network and has a big-picture view of what the Bears know they have and what they don’t know.
That’s what this decision comes down to for Poles and the Bears.
It’s not about what Fields might one day become or what he could have been if they had surrounded him with more talent.
It’s about what he has shown and what they know. To Warner, Fields hasn’t shown enough to leave no doubt that he’s the Bears’ franchise quarterback.
With Williams sitting there, Warner believes the doubt that Fields has failed to remove is a flashing sign pointing the Bears toward their future – one that doesn’t involve him.