Bears trade Fields to Steelers — will they draft Williams No. 1?

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 7, 2024, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 7, 2024, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

As expected, the Chicago Bears finally pulled the trigger on trading quarterback Justin Fields Saturday — to the Pittsburgh Steelers where he will be behind Russell Wilson — which clears the way for Chitown to use that No.1 pick in the 2024 draft to grab USC’s Caleb Williams.




Well, according to the ever-growing groupthink, Williams has long been slotted as the best quarterback — the best player even — in this year’s draft, which begins on April 25 in Detroit. Remember, this is the same draftnik think tank that rated Alabama’s Bryce Young No. 1 last year, when he was indeed the first player taken by Carolina head coach Frank Reich, who is now jobless.


We’ll get back to that No. 1 pick, but first let’s do the bookkeeping so far.


The Bears selected Fields No. 11 overall in the 2021 draft after the mobile quarterback’s prolific college career at Ohio State. After Fields managed only ten wins in 38 starts on a below average Bears team, Chicago sent him to Pittsburgh Saturday for a 2025 sixth-round pick that could become a fourth-round spot based on playing time.


We have seen responses to the Fields trade that claim it takes the 49ers off the hook for their gamble on Trey Lance, whom they acquired with the No. 3 overall pick in 2021, then sent him to Dallas last year for a mere fourth round spot. But it wasn't that simple. The 49ers acquired that No. 3 pick from Miami in 2021 in an exchange of first round spots that year, plus sending Miami the 49ers' No. 1 picks in 2022, 2023 and a third rounder in 2022. So the 49ers are still king of the hill for bad transactions in the 2021 draft. 


Turns out, the 49ers probably could have stayed where they were in 2021 and grabbed Fields, but then the world might never have discovered Mr. Irrelevant, seventh-rounder Brock Purdy, who helped SF to this year’s Super Bowl and obfuscated one of the worst draft day trades in franchise history. 


Interestingly, the week Fields was drafted he said that Russell Wilson, formerly of Seattle and Denver, played a style he liked. Makes you wonder if the Steelers had that in mind when they signed Wilson a week ago, with Denver carrying $39 million of his salary and Pittsburgh only the minimum $1.21 million on a one-year contract. And, in the final year of his rookie contract, Fields hits the cap at only $3.2 million.


Reports indicate that Fields actually chose Pittsburgh over three other teams.  


Fields’ trade was expected for a while, but definitely after Bears coach Matt Eberflus outlined a clear scenario in an interview at the Combine. Then, in the last week, the Steelers signed Wilson, which apparently didn’t sit well with former starter Kenny Pickett, whom they then traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Again, reports indicate that Philadelphia was Pickett's choice. 


After three seasons of turmoil and confusion, Fields had nothing but good things to say about the trade, and Chicago, on social media:


Can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago for taking me in and embracing me. Thank you to the entire Bears organization and ownership for allowing me the opportunity to be part of such a historic franchise. But most of all thank you to my all my brothers that I played with. You all were the reason I attacked each day the way I did. I can’t thank you all enough for what y’all have meant to me over the last 3 years through the ups and downs. I wish each one of you nothing but success. Ready for this next chapter!


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has talked longingly about the virtues of having a mobile quarterback, a perspective no doubt nurtured by the final years of statuesque quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.


“Quarterback mobility is a component of play, something that you don't deal with every week, something that we better be ready to deal with this week," Tomlin said the week before facing Fields in a 2021 game. “I imagine he's gaining a sense of comfort of when to utilize those skills and when it's most appropriate and how to take advantage of his talents with each passing week."


In that game, Fields completed 17 of 29 passes for 291 yards, one touchdown, one interception and ran eight times for 45 yards while taking three sacks. The Steelers, thanks in large part to T.J. Watt notching all three sacks, won 29-27 on a last-minute Chris Boswell field goal.


Most believe the trading of Fields all but guarantees that the Bears will select Williams, the former USC signal-caller, with the No. 1 overall pick. Williams will have more help than Fields did at Chicago. The Bears acquired former Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, one of the best in the league, running back D’Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Evert, and will have wideout DJ Moore, last year's big offseason acquisition, returning for his second season in Chicago.


Pittsburgh is expected to extend Wilson's contract next offseason, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which means that Fields will likely be free to test the open market next offseason. The Steelers could keep Fields in the unlikely possibility that they exercise his option year by May 2.


So, now all the Bears need to do is use that No. 1 pick to grab Williams.


But is he really the best quarterback, the best player in this draft? rates Williams as the second-best quarterback and No. 3 overall player.

Latest Player Notes

Steelers positional analysis: Kenny Pickett stands alone in QB room

2/17/2024If the Steelers were concerned about the uncertain future at quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger retired, the outlook ...

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t deserve criticism since Super Bowl

Globe StaffUpdated February 17, 2024, 9:38 a.m.Kyle Shanahan has been on the defensive all week following the 49ers’ 25-22 ...

New Raiders GM expected to be aggressive in search for top QB

February 17, 2024 - 4:19 PMIf Tom Telesco’s past offers clues about his future, expect the Raiders’ new general manager to ...

Mark Kiszla: After hating on Russell Wilson, maybe Sean Payton should give Sam Darnold some love

Sam Darnold needs a second chance to prove his worth in the NFL almost as desperately as the Broncos need a quarterback.Could ...

Grading the Week: Broncos QB Russell Wilson sounds like he can’t get away from Sean Payton fast enough

2/17/2024Apparently, Russell Wilson and Ciara didn’t buy what Sean Payton was shoveling on radio row during Super Bowl Week.A ...

When Deshaun Watson will begin throwing; how he feels about new OC Ken Dorsey, and more: Browns Insider

cleveland.comCLEVELAND, Ohio — Deshaun Watson is on track in his rehab schedule from shoulder surgery — maybe even a little ...

Jay Harbaugh stepping out of family circle for first time with Seahawks

Seattle Times staff reporterIf Jay Harbaugh’s last name gives him a hefty family legacy to live up to, his new position with ...

What the 49ers said after coming back to beat Packers

16-20 minutes 1/21/2024The 49ers earned a wild playoff win in a rainstorm Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium, coming back to ...

Why 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw wouldn’t go down after game-winning interception vs. Packers

5-7 minutes 1/21/2024SANTA CLARA — Dre Greenlaw was running zig-zags with the joy of a third-grader dodging tackles at recess.A ...

3 things that went right for Steelers offense, 3 that new offensive coordinator must fix

Mike Tomlin is going outside of his comfort zone — and the organization — to find his next offensive coordinator.Not since ...
See More Player Notes