Bradley’s Buzz: The next stop on Justin Fields’ long and winding road is ... Pittsburgh?

As a Harrison High Hoya, Justin Fields was the nation’s No. 1 recruit. He committed to Penn State. He signed with Georgia. That’s Chapter 1.

Chapter 2: He exited Athens without starting a game or playing a significant down, unless you count his deployment on the fourth-and-11 fake punt in the SEC championship against Alabama. He chose to sit out the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. The Bulldogs returned home on Jan. 2. On Jan. 5, Fields announced he’d be joining Ohio State.

Chapter 3: In his first season in Columbus, Fields led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff and finished third behind Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts in Heisman voting. We around here recall that as the year Kirby Smart became known as the dunce who picked Jake Fromm over J. Fields.

Chapter 4: COVID arrived. The Big Ten chose to defer football until the spring. The SEC, where even in a pandemic It Just Meant More, opted not to wait. Fields became a leading voice in the campaign to get his latest conference to reconsider. The Big Ten reconsidered, though its dithering reduced its irregular season to five games. Fields ran seventh in Heisman balloting. Ohio State beat Clemson to reach the CFP title tilt. The Buckeyes lost to Bama 52-24.

Chapter 5: Fields entered the 2021 NFL draft. He went 11th overall. He was the fourth quarterback – Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance went 1, 2 and 3 – taken. The Bears seemed happy to have Fields. Key word: “seemed.”

Chapter 6: Andy Dalton started Chicago’s first two games. Then he got hurt. Fields started the next two games and was so impressive coach Matt Nagy named him the Bears’ QB1. Fields held the job until he suffered cracked ribs. Then he sprained his ankle. Then he tested positive for COVID. Then the Bears, having gone 6-11, fired Nagy.

Chapter 7: Fields opened the 2022 season as the Bears’ starter. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: They went 3-14. He became the third NFL quarterback – Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson were the first two – to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He also took a league-worst 55 sacks. The Bears started 2-1. They finished 3-14. They traded the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina in exchange for the Panthers’ No. 1 pick in 2024.

Chapter 8: Fields remained the starter. The Bears started 1-5. He hurt his thumb and shoulder in an October loss to Minnesota and missed four games. He presided over four wins in the season’s final seven games, but by then the focus had shifted to the draft. Carolina was en route to 2-15, leaving Chicago to pick first in a draft heavy on quarterbacks. Over three NFL seasons, Fields finished 28th, 25th and 22nd in passer rating. Over his 38 starts, the Bears were 10-28.

Chapter 9: The Bears trade Fields to Pittsburgh for either a sixth- or a fourth-round draft pick, depending on how many snaps he takes in 2024, which mightn’t be many, given that the Steelers just signed Russell Wilson as a free agent.

Fields turned 25 this month. We’re still not sure what to make of him. At Georgia, Smart couldn’t – or wouldn’t, depending on your view – make room for him. At Ohio State, he was among the nation’s very best players. With Chicago, he went from being the franchise QB to the guy who had to leave to free the spot for a presumably better franchise QB.

That the Bears got so little for Fields tells us the rest of the NFL isn’t sure how to view him, either. (The Falcons, often seen as a possible suitor, chose Kirk Cousins.) Pittsburgh wouldn’t have landed Wilson to be anything but its starter. He’s 35, and he signed a one-year deal, which the Steelers could extend. Fields’ rookie contract will lapse after this season unless the Steelers renew it – at $25.6 million for 2025.

Pittsburgh could see Wilson as a bridge to Fields, though it would be difficult to keep both for longer than a year. It could see Fields merely as insurance should Wilson get hurt, though he doesn’t often. For now, we know only this: Chapter 10 of the epic Justin Fields Saga should be the most intriguing yet, which is really saying something.

The above is part of a regular exercise available to all who register on for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Go to the home page. Click on “Choose from a variety of newsletters” at the top. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks, folks.