Warren Sapp's Justin Fields trade rumor only start of Bears' offseason circus
Sapp's Fields trade rumor start of Bears' offseason circus originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
From the second Davis Mills connected with Jordan Akins on a 28-yard touchdown pass to lift the Houston Texans over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18, it was clear the NFL offseason would run through Chicago.
The Bears enter the offseason armed with the No. 1 overall pick and around $100 million in salary cap. Any free agent that general manager Ryan Poles wants to make a run at, he can. The Bears have the money to absorb any contract in a trade and, by owning the No. 1 pick, become the focal point of the entire draft.
All of that comes with noise, a lot of which will be centered around one man and his future in Chicago.
Quarterback Justin Fields.
Even before the Bears earned the No. 1 pick in Week 18, the chatter suggesting Poles could trade Fields and draft a different quarterback with the top pick had already started.
During his end-of-season press conference, Poles silenced that speculation when he said Fields would be his starter in 2023. However, Poles left a yard or two of wiggle room by saying he'd need to be "blown away" to draft a quarterback at No. 1.
Poles was negotiating in public, making sure teams behind the Bears in the draft know they could be in the market for a signal-caller.
Take the Bears' war chest of offseason assets and add in Poles' comments, and you get the recipe for an offseason circus that will swirl around Fields and the Bears for the next few months.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer recently made noise when he went on former Major League Baseball player Bret Boone's podcast and said he heard the Bears plan to trade Fields.
"What I'm hearing out of Chicago is they're fixing to package him up, trade him for some other pieces and then go with the Bryce kid from Alabama," Sapp said.
"There's smoke everywhere talking about them trading Justin Fields and going after Bryce."
Sapp's podcast appearance has little impact on the Bears' plan. It doesn't signal they plan to move Fields, but it shows just how much noise there will be around the Bears this offseason.
The ever-disciplined Poles is sure to do everything in his power to drive up the price for the No. 1 pick. Expect there to be a lot of chatter around the Bears and the top draft-eligible quarterbacks. There will be meetings, dinners, and probably anonymous sources saying that quarterback X blew away the Bears' brass at a certain pro day or the NFL Scouting Combine.
Fields said after the season that he planned to help Poles recruit free agents and do whatever the general manager asks to improve the roster going into 2023.
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I'd venture to guess Poles made Fields aware of the copious amounts of rumors and chatter that would be coming their way.
When your franchise is set to be one of the focal points of the offseason, that's to be expected.
Sapp's podcast appearance and trade rumor drop were just the opening act for what will be a wild few months for Fields, Poles, and the Bears.
The circus is only just beginning.
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