If the Chicago Bears do, in fact, move on from Justin Fields this offseason, he will almost certainly be traded. While it’s not impossible that the Bears choose to bring in a rookie quarterback with Fields, the odds are highly improbable.
If they do trade Fields, the floor of the suggested price would be around a second-round pick, with the final deal being somewhere in the idea of a second-round pick this year with a little something extra attached, perhaps a day three pick this year or a conditional pick in 2025.
Is that a reasonable expectation? To have that kind of market, there will need to be at least two, and probably three teams in the mix for Fields’ services. But looking through the market, that may not happen, depending on how teams view the rookies in this upcoming draft class.
Let’s first examine which teams could be looking for a new starting quarterback in 2024. Let’s look at this from a more conservative approach as teams rarely do something bold at the QB position if they already have a solid player in that position (like Tua or Dak).
In the AFC, the Patriots need help in the East, the Steelers need help in the North, let’s tentatively put the Titans in there from the South and the Broncos (assuming Wilson is cut) and the Raiders in the West.
In the NFC, let’s put Washington in the mix, despite Sam Howell. Let’s put the Giants in the mix, despite Daniel Jones. We know we have the Bears in the North as well as the Vikings. The Falcons are there in the South. The Saints will almost certainly be looking for a QB in 2025, but with Derek Carr’s contract, let’s assume they are not in 2024. There’s also the Bucs. And out West the Rams could look for a developmental QB behind Matthew Stafford, but there’s no immediacy there. The Cardinals already said they are committed to Kyler Murray and the Seahawks could potentially make a bold move with or without Geno Smith.
That’s 13 teams that could use a quarterback. Taking a deeper dive into these teams, let’s eliminate the Titans. They invested a second round pick in Will Levis and he flashed some last season, they’ll give him a year to see how this goes. Let’s also assume that Kirk Cousins ends up back in Minnesota (this is probably best case for a Fields trade because highly unlikely the Bears would trade Fields within the division). I think it’s a safe bet that Baker Mayfield ends up back with Tampa. Let’s consider the Rams complacent with Stafford this year, but leave Seattle in the mix.
Suddenly, we are down to nine teams. Now, when we look at this further, we know three teams (the Bears included) would be committing to Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels as starters and would not be interested in Fields services. Let’s assume that Washington goes with Maye and that either the Giants or Patriots end up with Daniels.
Who’s left? Right now we have either the Patriots or Giants, the Steelers, the Broncos, the Raiders, the Falcons, and the Seahawks.
For the last month, two locations, the Raiders and the Steelers, have been considered prime landing spots for Fields. However, the Raiders have hired Luke Getsy, and while you certainly shouldn’t eliminate acquiring a player due to a coach, being the Raiders saw the failed marriage between Getsy and Fields last year, it would be odd to try and pair them again in a new uniform.
Arthur Smith has been named the new offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. There have been long standing rumors that Smith has never been a big fan of Justin Fields. If that’s the case, again, would you force an OC to take on a quarterback they don’t believe in? That doesn’t seem to be the way the Steelers would approach the situation.
If we cross off those two teams, we have cut it down to four available landing spots. If the Patriots go for Daniels, it’s doubtful the Giants would trade a second-round pick for competition with Daniel Jones. There have been reports that the Giants are looking to add a veteran to be competition with Jones, that feels more like a Jake Browning to me, not a trade for Justin Fields. That also doesn’t feel like a move for Jayden Daniels. So let’s eliminate the Giants as a partner as well.
That leaves us with the Patriots, Broncos, Falcons and Seahawks.
One of those first three teams will almost certainly end up with Daniels in this scenario. It’s also highly likely that one of these teams will also be committing to JJ McCarthy. There’s also Michael Penix and Bo Nix, but let’s assume, to the Bears benefit, that neither of those two players are drafted with the idea that they’ll be a year one starter.
Just like that, we are down to two landing spots for Fields. Where does Russell Wilson land? There’s a chance Wilson could end up in Las Vegas or Pittsburgh, but if he doesn’t and ends up on one of the four teams above, that would cause further issues to find a market for Fields.
Plenty of people in NFL circles think that Justin Fields was the bigger problem in Chicago, not Luke Getsy. You can disagree with that statement (and so do I), but it doesn’t change the fact that that perception will certainly hinder the Fields market.
What we are looking at is a Fields’ market that will probably have three teams in it a maximum, but more likely would have just one or two teams, and if that’s the case, trying to drive up a big price for Fields will be challenging.
Yes, there’s the previous trade for Sam Darnold, but keep in mind, that didn’t have a current year second round pick, the Jets received a current year sixth round pick, and second and fourth round pick the following year. According to the charts, that package for Darnold is roughly the equivalent of an early third-round pick in the current year. That value is not as the projected second-round pick some have said for Fields.
The other aspect about this is the fifth-year option. Fields’ 2024 salary is extremely affordable, but if a team chooses to give up some significant draft capital for Fields, they would almost certainly pick up the fifth-year option so they can get a two-year assessment of him. That option is going to carry a $23 million salary in 2025. That may not be overly expensive as QB contracts go, but it certainly isn’t one to sneeze at either. That financial commitment, combined with the draft capital, will be weighed heavily by teams considering Fields as their quarterback for 2024 and 2025.
This isn’t to say the Bears won’t be able to land a second round pick for Fields, it’s more examining the market to say that this may be a buyer’s market for Fields, not a seller’s market. If that’s the case, the Bears may need to focus on better capital in 2025 for Fields and not so much additional capital in 2024. If Ryan Poles are focused on 2024, it is possible that Fields won’t net higher than a third-round pick plus an additional pick (probably a third/fourth-round conditional or a straight-day-three pick) in 2025.
It's rather early to examine this market. The NFL Combine is going to be critical as teams will get a better look at these rookie QBs and that will give teams a better idea if they fall in love with a Penix or Nix or McCarthy that they’d pass on a trade of Justin Fields, or if they don’t think the rookie are all they are cracked up to be where a trade for Fields would be more enticing.
After looking closely at this market, it seems like any hope of a first-round pick is certainly not on the table. A second-round pick is always possible if a team decides to come in with an aggressive offer, but Ryan Poles might have to get creative when he’s trying to maximize the value of his return if he does decide to trade Justin Fields this offseason.