Why the Bears should keep Justin Fields, trade the No. 1 overall pick
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Why the Bears should keep Justin Fields, trade the No. 1 overall pick

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - The Bears have been in this situation before. Should they keep Justin Fields and trade the No. 1 overall pick or use that pick on a franchise quarterback like Caleb Williams out of USC or Drake Maye from North Carolina? Trading the pick worked out well last year, so why not do it again?

Fields still has one more year left on his rookie contract with a total cap hit of $6,004,713, all of which is fully guaranteed. Thus, whatever Chicago’s offseason plans are for the salary cap, Fields’ salary is not a hindrance to those plans. Paying a No. 1 overall pick may actually cost more money. For comparison, Bryce Young, who the Carolina Panthers drafted No. 1 overall last season, had a cap hit of $6,900,922 for this past season. So, for next season at least, Fields may actually be the slightly less expensive option.

Moving on from the financial perspective, there is also the benefit of keeping Fields to see how he does under a different offensive coordinator. First, this would involve hiring the right person for the job who knows how to work with a running quarterback. Second, a different offensive coordinator would allow Fields to show whether his struggles were really a result of the play-calling instead of his talent and abilities. Finally, Chicago started getting some wins together in the final weeks of the season, winning five of their last seven. Perhaps Fields can lead the team to more wins in the upcoming season.

Keeping Fields, for one more reason, is not that much of a risk.

If things do not work out, Chicago can always release Fields and draft a quarterback in the 2025 NFL Draft. Besides, if they trade the No. 1 overall pick again, not only will they have their first-round pick in 2025 but also the first-rounder of whoever they trade with since that would surely be a condition of any trade. That way, they would have two first-round picks to get a quarterback and another highly talented player.

That obviously elicits the question - who would the Bears trade with? It is important to keep in mind that Chicago already has the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, so they are already sitting with a top-10 pick. With that being said, most likely, they will not trade with a team that is not in the top 10.

There are a number of teams that could be quarterback-needy going into the draft. However, that will depend more on offseason trades and who gets released, which remains to be seen. Thus, as of right now, it appears two top contenders for the No. 1 overall pick are the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

Trading with the Patriots sounds highly enticing.

The Bears would only drop to the No. 3 overall pick, and with the Washington Commanders at No. 2 desperately in need of a quarterback, it would then seem that both of the first two picks in the draft would be quarterbacks. At No. 3, that would leave the draft wide open for Chicago to select whomever they wanted. It would be incredibly helpful for the development of the offense and Fields to draft an elite wide receiver, and there is no question that Marvin Harrison Jr out of Ohio State is the best receiver in the draft. Therefore, trading with New England would provide the dual benefit of getting a first-round pick for the 2025 draft and getting the franchise receiver in Harrison Jr.

The one downside to this trade is that the Bears would not get as much in return because they are only trading down two spots. But, given the upside of getting a generational player like Harrison Jr to play alongside elite receiver DJ Moore. It also still involves getting the Patriots’ first-rounder for next season, which should be high given the current state of the organization with a new head coach and starting a rookie quarterback next season.

Then again, the Atlanta Falcons are not a bad trade partner either.

While Chicago would drop to No. 8 in the draft and surely miss out on Harrison Jr, they would get more in such a trade and perhaps get a player in that scenario, such as their receiver Drake London, who had 905 receiving yards despite the less-than-mediocre quarterback play throughout the season. The Bears would have back-to-back picks at No. 8 and No. 9 overall and, if they wanted, could even trade down once more like they did last season, going from Carolina’s No. 9 to No. 10 from the Philadelphia Eagles. At No. 8 or No. 9, there should be an elite receiver left, but if they got London, they could focus on another key position, such as another edge rusher to accompany Montez Sweat.

No matter who Chicago decides to trade with - whether it be New England, Atlanta, or someone else - they should trade the No. 1 overall pick and give Fields one more season to prove he is the quarterback of the future for the Chicago Bears.

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