Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got him.
No truer words apply to the Chicago Bears’ development at quarterback as Ryan Pace and his staff succeeded in landing their long-term answer for such a troubled position. In a move previously declared by many as “impossible,” too.
In a move that shocked analysts and fans alike, the Bears traded up with the New York Giants to exchange the 11th overall pick for the Bears’ 20th overall pick. Moments later Carlos Nelson of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) announced the Bears’ selection of Ohio State QB Justin Fields. A roar immediately erupted from the crowd as Bears fans were seen celebrating the arrival of their new signal caller.
The Cleveland crowd reacts to Justin Fields going to the Chicago Bears pic.twitter.com/5Ocu1TeBXk— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) April 30, 2021
I am absolutely hyped about this pick. HYPED. Yet, to be completely honest, I’m not at all surprised by this move. I never expected anything less than a big trade to happen at some point for the Bears involving their QB position.
Never did I ever believe Andy Dalton was the ultimate move at the NFL’s most critical requirement for any competent roster. Not once. And this is not to say Andy Dalton is a bad QB. He’s just not “the guy.”
Here, let me fix that for everyone else on the planet.
Let’s look at the facts. Chicago signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal worth $10 million, and up to $13 million (with incentives), without any further commitment past 2021. Realistically, that’s high-end backup money, and Dalton isn’t even the highest paid QB on the Bears’ roster. Nick Foles is being paid a cool $12 million total after a roster bonus kicked in several weeks ago. Foles would cost another $10 million in dead cap just to cut him.
Focusing more on Nick Foles for the time being, the former “Plan B” option at QB for 2020 has an out built into his deal where Chicago can jettison him in the 2022 offseason to save just over $16 million. Again, Andy Dalton has just a one-year commitment with two “dead years” or “voidable years” tacked on to reduce his cap hit. Both QBs could be gone in 2022.
That entire scenario at QB was executed on purpose.
Originally I, and everyone else in the world, heard of Chicago’s pursuit for Russell Wilson via trade with the Seattle Seahawks, and that was fun until John Schneider and Pete Carroll of Seattle both said, “NO.” This decision came even after a whopping (rumored) package of three 1st rounders, a 3rd, and two starters were offered to a team who doesn’t pick until day 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Why would Seattle want to sell off their Super Bowl caliber QB in the first place?
Oh, wait, it’s because he’s pissed off with the organization. It’s still worth watching that ticking timebomb go off, even if it is for my own amusement. That certainly isn’t the only situation of it’s kind this year - more on that later.
Naturally, significant disappointment was felt when Ryan Pace settled for Andy Dalton and an outlandish $10 million deal following Seattle’s veto of Pace’s proposal. Granted, Dalton enters Chicago as the most accomplished QB on paper. That’s also not much of a landmark to begin with.
“Just where are you going with all this, ECD?”
Simple. The Bears have planned on making a big swing at the QB position ever since their playoff loss on Nickelodeon to conclude their 2020 league year. Whether it was for a trade involving a high profiled veteran, or moving up in the draft, Pace knew he had just one last chance to get “his guy.” Otherwise, well, he might as well start updating his resume to look at new scouting jobs.
Need some more evidence? Here’s a snippet from Ryan Pace himself via Adam Jahns of The Athletic.
The Bears were somewhat surprised they pulled off what they did for Justin Fields.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) April 30, 2021
As Ryan Pace said, Plan 1 was to move up for a QB. Some teams refused their overtures. Plan 2 called for moves up for others. Plan 3 was staying put at 20.
“Luckily, Plan 1 executed,” Pace said.
On April 29th, 2021, Ryan Pace finally connected on what could have been — and what could still be — his last appearance at bat. There is no denial that Justin Fields is a home run by himself. Landing Fields, while surrendering a measly package of picks and maintaining their day two picks these next two years, is (potentially) a grand slam.
For comparison’s sake the San Francisco 49ers surrendered first round picks for 2021, 2022, and 2023 to guarantee their selection of Trey Lance at 3rd overall. This was after originally being slotted to pick 12th overall. If their evaluations prove true, they’ve got their franchise QB. If not, they won’t have another chance until 2024 at the earliest. And, likely, a new regime will take over as a result.
Ironically, Chicago wound up getting a QB who’s arguably more pro ready and possesses an equally high ceiling at a much lower cost. The overall value of this trade is reminiscent of when the Kansas City Chiefs traded up in 2017 from 26th overall to 10th overall. In that deal KC sent a total of two 1st rounders and a 3rd rounder between the 2017 and 2018 drafts. We all know how that trade worked out...
Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are firmly on the hot seat. In Ted Phillips’s own words — btw his seat should be the hottest of them all in my personal opinion — the Bears have to show improvement in 2021. Especially at the QB position. For once in Pace’s entire career as the Chicago Bears’ GM, he has found a sound solution to the crippling issue at Halas Hall. A nearly 100-year old problem, if you may.
In a situation declared the most desperate of any in the NFL, the yearly quest to fix the QB position for the Chicago Bears, Pace made his splash. It was previously deemed inconceivable to think Justin Fields could be had outside of the top ten picks overall.
Until it happened.
Hindsight will always be 20/20. We all know Pace’s track record at QB has been hideous. It remains to be seen just where Fields’ career takes off following last night’s transactions. What I can tell you, personally, is we finally have a sense of hope at ending the league’s biggest comedic punch line. It’s all up to Pace and Nagy to place their real QB1 in a position for immediate and long-term success.
There’s no telling what will happen during the NFL’s first ever 17-game regular season. We could see something wonderful happen on the Bears’ offense. Or, we could witness complete disappointment. Go ahead, flip that coin.
Oh, and it certainly feels good to know THIS is going on too.
The Bears trading up for Justin Fields the same day we hear Aaron Rodgers is super pissed at the Packers is not the best— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) April 30, 2021
Seeing Aaron Rodgers tell the Green Bay Packers “up yours” while Chicago lands their most realistic answer at QB is such an amazing feeling.
Let’s all wake up to reality.
The nightmare(s) may finally be over.
Justin Fields is now a Chicago Bear.
He, now, is the true QB1 in the Windy City, and we all should be excited.
For more on the Justin Fields selection, give Robert Schmitz a listen on his Bear With Me podcast as he’s joined by Jacob Infante, EJ Snyder, and Danny Meehan to break down the pick.