Bears trade Justin Fields to Steelers, clear way to draft a QB at No. 1

Bears trade Justin Fields to Steelers, clear way to draft a QB at No. 1

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 1

The Chicago Bears’ much-anticipated trade of Justin Fields at last came together, days after the initial wave of quarterback reshuffling played out across the NFL. The Bears agreed to a deal Saturday to send Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers sent the Bears a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2025 — which could improve to a fourth-rounder, based on Fields’s playing time — in a move that provides clarity to both teams’ rapidly changing quarterback situations.

The teams announced the trade Saturday night, pending a physical, hours after it was confirmed by two people familiar with the discussions.

“We have engaged in multiple trade conversations in recent weeks and believe trading Justin at this time to Pittsburgh is what is best for both Justin and the Bears,” Bears General Manager Ryan Poles said in a statement. “Today we spoke to Justin to inform him of the trade and the rationale behind it for us as a club.”

The trade seemingly clears the way for the Bears to use the No. 1 overall choice in next month’s NFL draft on a quarterback, perhaps USC’s Caleb Williams. The Bears were widely expected to decide between using the selection on Williams and trading Fields or retaining Fields and trading the top draft pick to amass other choices to build around Fields.

They opted to trade Fields, the former first-round selection who provided glimpses of potential stardom but failed to establish himself as an honest-to-goodness franchise quarterback in his three seasons in Chicago.

Now he joins Russell Wilson in the quarterback mix in Pittsburgh. The Steelers signed Wilson, the nine-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl winner for the Seattle Seahawks, to a one-year, $1.21 million deal after he was released by the Denver Broncos.

The Steelers have performed a complete overhaul at quarterback. They parted ways with all three of the quarterbacks who started games for them last season by releasing Mitch Trubisky, losing Mason Rudolph to the Tennessee Titans in free agency and trading Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fields posted his farewell to the Bears on social media.

“Can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago for taking me in and embracing me,” Fields said. “Thank you to the entire Bears organization and ownership for allowing me the opportunity to be part of such a historic franchise. But most of all thank you to my all my brothers that I played with. You all were the reason I attacked each day the way I did. I can’t thank you all enough for what y’all have meant to me over the last 3 years through the ups and downs. I wish each one of you nothing but success. Ready for this next chapter!”

The Bears’ decision perhaps was not much of one at all. Williams, the former Gonzaga College High School standout who was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC, has drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes, the two-time league MVP and three-time Super Bowl winner for the Kansas City Chiefs. Williams’s potential might be too great for the Bears to pass up, and they have fortified their roster to provide help for the prospective arrival of a prized rookie quarterback.

They signed tailback D’Andre Swift in free agency. They traded for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen to pair him with DJ Moore. There is a long way to go for a team coming off a 7-10 season and without a playoff appearance since the 2020 season. But the Bears certainly are upgrading the roster.

“Business is Business,” Moore wrote Saturday on social media.

The Bears have the No. 1 pick thanks to last year’s trade with Carolina that enabled the Panthers to move up in the draft and select quarterback Bryce Young first overall. The Bears also possess the No. 9 choice.

Fields, 25, made 38 starts for the Bears after they selected him 11th overall out of Ohio State in the 2021 draft. The Bears went 10-28 in those games. Even so, Fields had moments of promise. He totaled 33 touchdown passes while throwing 20 interceptions over the past two seasons. He ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns in the 2022 season, followed by 657 rushing yards and four touchdowns last season.

“We want to thank him for his tireless dedication, leadership and all he poured into our franchise and community the last three years and wish him the best towards a long and successful NFL career,” Poles said.

The Steelers reached the AFC playoffs last season, even with their revolving door at quarterback. Pickett made 12 starts. Trubisky made two. Rudolph started the final three games of the regular season and the Steelers’ opening-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers certainly are not standing pat.

Wilson still seems likely to get the first chance to be next season’s starter. He was the NFL’s eighth-rated passer last season, but the Broncos benched him with two games remaining. According to Wilson and the NFL Players Association, the team had threatened in October to bench him for the remainder of the season if he did not agree to adjust his contract and address an injury guarantee tied to a $37 million offseason payment, leading the NFLPA to intervene.

By releasing him, the Broncos avoided making that $37 million payment. But they must pay him almost $37.8 million for next season — the $39 million they owed him, minus the league-minimum salary in his deal with the Steelers.

The Steelers announced the Wilson signing Friday. Pickett, a first-round choice in 2022, reportedly was displeased that Wilson would be given the initial practice-field opportunity to work with the starting offense. The Steelers, who reportedly were dissatisfied with Pickett’s reaction to the Wilson signing, agreed Friday to trade Pickett and a fourth-round pick next month to the Eagles for a third-round selection this year and two seventh-rounders in 2025.

Pickett is set to back up Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. The Steelers announced the Pickett trade earlier Saturday.

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