Bears general manager signals a Justin Fields trade is on the horizon

The Falcons looking to upgrade at quarterback, but passed on Fields in 2021
Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) breaks away in the second half of a game against the Falcons in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) breaks away in the second half of a game against the Falcons in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Falcons contend that they have several options while seeking to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason.

One of those options apparently will be trading with the Chicago Bears for Justin Fields, the former Georgia and Ohio State standout from Harrison High.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who holds the No. 1 overall pick in the April NFL draft, signaled that a move is forthcoming while addressing the media Tuesday at the Indianapolis Convention Center during the NFL Scouting Combine.

“It just depends on what opportunities pop up,” Poles said after being asked if he’d prefer to trade Fields early in free agency, if the Bears presumably were going to reset at quarterback in the draft. “I will say this: If we go down that road, I (want to) do right by Justin as well. No one wants to live in gray. I know that’s uncomfortable. I wouldn’t (want to) be in that situation either. So, we’ll gather the information. We’ll move as quickly as possible. We’re not (going to) be in a rush. And (we’ll) see what presents itself and what’s best for the organization.”

The Falcons hold the eighth pick in the draft. They would need to trade up to get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.

USC’s Caleb Williams is considered the top quarterback prospect, followed by LSU’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. The second tier of quarterbacks, which include Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and Oregon’s Bo Nix, generally are not considered worthy of the eighth overall pick.

If the Bears move on from Fields, they likely would select Williams.

The Falcons passed on Fields in the 2021 draft and took tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick after quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance were taken earlier in that drraft.

Poles attempted to cover his tracks.

“I’ve been in contact with his team and let them know kind (of) what we’re looking at,” Poles said of his talks with Fields, “how things might play out, and that we’ll continue to communicate. ... It’s part of this business. It is a unique situation.”

Fields has a 10-28 record as a starting quarterback with the Bears. He has completed 60.3% of his passes, thrown 40 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. He has struggled to read defenses, as he’s been sacked 36, 55 and 44 times.

In 2022, he rushed for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns.

Last season, Fields led the Bears to a 37-17 victory over the Falcons on Dec. 31. He played under control, as he completed 20 of 32 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 99.5. He also rushed 11 times for 45 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears were playing out the season, while the Falcons were attempting to stay in the NFC South playoff race.

The Falcons’ plan to stop their string of six consecutive losing seasons will turn on the decision to upgrade the quarterback position.

“We’ve got to get it right,” general manager Terry Fontenot said. “That’s real clear. We haven’t shied away from that. We know that’s critical to get that position right.”

The Falcons also know they need more than a quarterback.

“But it doesn’t stop there, we’ve got to get the right quarterback in,” Fontenot said. “We have to improve this entire roster and get ready to roll this season.”

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