Justin Fields

When will the Bears trade Justin Fields? Here's a potential strategy for the front office

Justin Fields could be traded during the 2024 NFL draft. Here's why

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At the NFL combine, general manager Ryan Poles made it clear the Bears want to "do right by" Justin Fields, in the event the organization decides to trade him. By that, Poles meant they would ideally find a new home for him by the start of NFL free agency on March 13.

Well, it's March 15. That hasn't happened. And no one believes the Bears will keep Fields.

There don't seem to be any clear starting spots around the league for Fields to take over, either. The Falcons signed Kirk Cousins, the Buccaneers re-signed Baker Mayfield and the Seahawks traded for Sam Howell. The Commanders and Patriots are expected to draft a quarterback. The Vikings also traded for an additional first-round pick from the Texans, assuming they're loading up to trade up in the draft for a quarterback.

So, when will the Bears trade Fields?

At this point, the league has made it clear by not trading for Fields that he should be viewed as a backup. The league's inactivity is a sign. If someone wanted him, they would've traded for him by this point. That hasn't been the case.

However, one premier spot to be a backup opened up on Friday. The Steelers traded former first-round pick Kenny Pickett to the Eagles, closing the door on a backup spot in Philadelphia, but opening one up in Pittsburgh. Fields would back up Russell Wilson, whom they signed this offseason to a one-year deal.

It makes sense for both sides. The Steelers signed Wilson to a one-year deal. Fields has one more season on his rookie contract and an open future past this upcoming season. Should Wilson not work out, Fields would be right there to step into his place.

There's the possibility that a trade could happen anytime, should the Steelers be inclined to make something happen. The Bears haven't been actively shopping Fields at this point, so Pittsburgh would have to come up with an offer for Poles to consider.

Realistically, the Bears will probably wait until the NFL draft in late April to seek a trade partner for Justin Fields.

"Most sources I've spoken with gave me the indication that they believe that somebody in the draft will not get the quarterback that they want," ESPN's Courtney Cronin recently said on "Get Up!" "And that could be the best time for Ryan Poles to strike and to get closer to the draft compensation that he had originally sought after."

At this juncture, the expected results for the 2024 NFL draft are to see three quarterbacks go in the first three picks to the Bears, Commanders and Patriots. That'll likely be Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels, barring any surprises.

After that, the Giants, Vikings, Raiders and possibly the Steelers and Seahawks could all be looking for quarterbacks. After the top three, it's Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, Washington's Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon's Bo Nix as potential first-round quarterbacks.

The Bears could play the waiting game, looking out for teams who miss on a signal caller in the draft. Then, as Cronin reported, they could shop Fields and hope his price goes up based on the demand for quarterbacks at that point.

It's been an arduous process for Fields. But if this free agency has shown anything, it's shown how the league views Fields. Any team that wants him will have to not only give up assets to the Bears for him but decide by May whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option, which is set at around $22 million.

That's not an easy pill to swallow. And looking at his numbers from his first three years, those don't provide much help to his case, either.

Stay tuned to see if and when the Bears trade Fields. If they do, a solid expectation for his departure would likely be around the draft or even during the draft, unless a team gets antsy for his services before then.

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