LAS VEGAS -- DJ Moore spent the back half of the Bears' season defending quarterback Justin Fields. The star receiver consistently through his full support behind the third-year signal-caller, repeatedly stating that whoever the Bears might draft won't be better than Fields.
When Moore arrived in Chicago via trade last offseason, he believed Fields was the quarterback he would be working with for the foreseeable future and perhaps the rest of his career.
The Bears landing the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft via the Carolina Panthers has changed that belief. While Moore still hopes Fields is his quarterback going forward, he understands that it's a decision that goes well above him.
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"I don't get paid enough to have that conversation," Moore told NBC Sports Chicago last week at Super Bowl 58 Radio Row. "I think everybody knows where I stand, So let's see what happens.
"The case is what it has always been, you know, he's still on ups," Moore said. "He's young, and he's 24. I just learned that. ... But, yeah, he's on the up."
Moore isn't the only Bears leader who has publicly voiced their support for Fields.
Both tight end Cole Kmet and linebacker T.J. Edwards have been vocal in their belief that Fields should be the quarterback going forward. But like Moore, both understand the NFL is an unfair business. One that Fields' time in Chicago might be a casualty of this offseason.
"You know, it's it's one of those things where, I mean, I've been in the league for a minute and understand how it goes. And it's a business," Edwards told NBC Sports Chicago. "And, you know, I think, you know, when you've been around certain guys, all you can do is really just -- you wish the people who treat you well and the people who act the right way, you know, you just wish them well no matter what happens and you root for him."
As for Kmet, he believes Fields has been a critical cog in the growth of his game and wants to continue to build on that connection. But the tight end understands the Bears could have eliminated all the questions if they had won more in 2023.
"He's been awesome since the beginning. The way he's just handled the whole environment in Chicago has been really impressive," Kmet told NBC Sports Chicago. "It's not an easy place to play, especially when you're not winning. But he just keeps coming to work every day. You've seen him be the same guy every Wednesday when we come back from a game. You've seen him improve despite whatever is going on. You know, with whatever happens, understand that it's a business. They are going to have decisions to make upstairs, but, you know, I have full faith in Justin wherever he's at -- with us or with some other NFL team.
"I really don't give my preference on things. I know that they are going to make decisions that they feel are best one way or the other. Obviously, I have a good rapport with Justin over the past couple of years, and I've seen my game continue to elevate with him at quarterback. But at the end of the day, they are going to make decisions that lead to winning, and unfortunately, we haven't done enough of that over the past couple of seasons."
Fields improved as a passer in 2023, but the leaps weren't big enough to remove all doubt.
Now, general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus must decide if Fields is the best choice to lead their rebuilding project to its next stage or if the Bears are better off drafting USC's Caleb Williams.
With just over 70 days until the 2024 NFL Draft, most around the league expect the Bears to stick at No. 1, draft Williams, and trade Fields.
Objectively, that's the right decision.
Fields should be commended for not letting a horrible situation in Chicago break him. He persevered through poor coaching in Year 1, a regime change, and a rebuild. He broke some bad habits, revealed himself to be the most dynamic runner with the ball in his hands in the NFL, and kept getting better as a passer.
But the Bears have a rare opportunity to draft a potentially generational talent in Williams. It's one that everyone understands is one they likely can't pass up.