Justin Fields

How the Justin Fields vs. Caleb Williams saga has unfolded for the Bears

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Ever since the conclusion of the 2023 season, the single biggest question facing the Chicago Bears has been a simple one to ask, but a difficult one to answer: what will they ultimately do with Justin Fields?

Fields, a first-round pick of the Bears in the 2021 NFL Draft, has appeared in 40 games for the Bears during his NFL career. He has posted a 10-28 record as a starter, completing 60.3% of his passes and throwing for 6,674 yards and 40 touchdowns.

His ability in the run game has been the big X-factor in his career, with 2,220 yards and 14 touchdowns to his credit in three NFL seasons.

With the Bears owning the top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft however, questions have grown to a fever pitch about his future. Will the Bears keep Fields, or will they trade him and select a quarterback, likely USC’s Caleb Williams, with that top selection?

Here’s how that saga has evolved, and what the principals involved in the momentous decision have had to say throughout the process.

Dec. 31: Bears officially secure No. 1 pick in draft

The Carolina Panthers’ New Year’s Eve loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars locked them into the worst record in the NFL, giving the Bears the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft for the second consecutive year.

The Bears had traded that pick to the Panthers in 2023 in a move that landed them multiple first round picks and a second-round pick, as well as wide receiver DJ Moore.

On the Football Aftershow, after the Bears' victory over the Falcons, Ruthie Polinsky, Dave Wannstedt, Alex Brown and Lance Briggs discuss the Bears securing the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft for the second year in a row

Jan. 7: “I gave it my all:” Fields reacts after what could be final Bears game

After the Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers to wrap up the 2023 season, Fields had time to reflect on his career up until that point.

“That decision is not in my hands,” he said. “All I can control is what I can do. I gave it my all. Whether it’s here or not, I have no regrets.”

He also shared a message with Bears fans, thanking them for their support.

“To the city of Chicago, love y’all,” he said. “Appreciate the fans and the support from all the Bears, you know, and in case this is my last rodeo with y’all, appreciate y’all for everything.”

Jan. 15: Caleb Williams officially declares for NFL Draft

In what was largely seen as a foregone conclusion, Williams officially declared for the NFL Draft just before the deadline to do so.

The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner told media that he was “excited for the future” and that he was leaving Southern California to declare for the draft.

“As a kid, I said this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life, but I didn’t work this hard just to reach this point,” he said. “I will continue my journey to make that little kid proud of the man I will be for many years to come.”

Josh Schrock joins Football Night in Chicago from the 2024 NFL Combine to talk about if the Bears are considering other rookie quarterback options

Feb. 21: Fields on why he unfollowed the Bears on social media

Fields drew a slew of online attention when it was revealed he had unfollowed the Bears on Instagram amid speculation about his future. He addressed that speculation on the 33rd Team podcast with Equanimeous St. Brown and his brother Amon-Ra a few days later.  

“Why do people take social media so seriously? I still mess with the Bears. I’m just trying to take a little break,” he said. “I unfollowed the Bears and the NFL (social media accounts). I’m not just trying to have football on my timeline.”

He also said he had grown weary of discussions surrounding the Bears’ quarterback decision, leading to him taking a break from social media.

“Man, I’m tired of hearing all the talk. We want Fields. We want Caleb. Bro, it’s just…,” he said.

Feb. 22: New Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron doesn’t tip hand on QB choice

New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron played things very close to the vest in remarks about the team’s quarterback situation.

“From a player’s standpoint in general, a lot of the conversation on offense revolved around adaptability,” he said. “What can you do with different pieces of the puzzle depending on each year? Each year in this league is going to be its own individual year. Priding ourselves on having our offensive system, a group of coaches that can adapt and adjust the scheme to a player’s skill set.”

Ruthie Polinsky joins Football Night in Chicago to talk about Bears OC Shane Waldron not even saying Justin Fields' or Caleb Williams' names in his first press conference

Feb. 26: DJ Moore keeps backing Fields

Moore has been a vocal advocate for Fields since the conclusion of the season, and he echoed those sentiments again on “NFL Total Access.”

“I still don’t think (this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks) compare to Justin right now,” he said.

Moore had 96 catches with the Bears in his first season in Chicago, and said that Fields had a ton to do with his success.

“The relationship jelled real well from the beginning,” he said. “Since I got traded, he was in contact, and we started throwing together, so it made the transition into games and everything easy.”

Feb. 27: Matt Eberflus discusses what he wants in a quarterback

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus broke down what he was looking for in a quarterback, with some saying it was antithetical to what Fields has brought to the table.

“The wiring of a quarterback obviously, number one is leadership,” he said. “You have got to be a great leader, and you’ve got to be resilient….I look at the guys that can operate the end of the game situations, that to me is what sets the separator.”

Josh Schrock joins Football Night in Chicago to talk about Bears coach Matt Eberflus listing some of Justin Fields' weaknesses as things he prioritizes in a quarterback

Feb. 27: Poles gives timeline on how team will handle Fields if they decide on trade

If the Bears decide that they’re going to move forward without Fields at quarterback, Poles says he won’t leave his quarterback to twist in the wind.

“I think you guys know me well enough now, if we go down that road, I want to do right by Justin as well,” he said. “No one wants to live in grey, I know that’s uncomfortable. So we will gather the information, we will move as quickly as possible, we are not going to be in a rush and see what presents itself and what’s best for the organization.”

Feb. 27: Source tells NBC Chicago the Falcons have inquired on Fields

It isn’t a surprise that there are teams interested in Fields’ services, and a source told NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock that the Atlanta Falcons are indeed one of those teams.

“A league source told NBC Sports Chicago that the Falcons have checked in with the Bears about Fields, but it’s unclear how far those conversations went, but there’s reason to expect them to pick back up this week in Indianapolis,” the report read.

Courtney Cronin joins Football Night in Chicago to discuss Bears players vocal support for Justin Fields

Feb. 28: Williams dismisses talk he’d spurn Bears

While there have been plenty of rumblings that Williams would demand a trade rather than suit up for the Bears, the quarterback himself dismissed those concerns.

“They have a talented team, a talented offense and defense,” he told Pete Thamel. “For anyone to be in that situation, I think they’d be excited.”

Williams says he’s heard all about football fans in Chicago, and has watched videos on sporting legends like Michael Jordan and Walter Payton to see how they’ve become so immortal in the city.

“It’s appealing to be in a city like that. With legends that you’ve looked up to…reach for the standard they set and try to do anything to get there,” he said.

Feb. 28: A new favorite for Fields’ services

DraftKings has a new clubhouse leader to land Fields’ services for the 2024 season, elevating the Atlanta Falcons to that perch.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had once been the favorite, but their +380 odds now trail both the Falcons (-300) and the Bears (+275), according to the sportsbook.

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