Justin Fields trade details: Bears send QB to Steelers for conditional draft pick

The Bears entered the 2024 NFL offseason facing the same dilemma they faced the previous year. Do they ride with Justin Fields for another season or take a new quarterback with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?

In 2023, Chicago traded the top selection to the Panthers, who moved up to acquire Bryce Young.

This time, the Bears decided to move on from Fields. They traded him to the Steelers on Saturday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, and now will presumably take USC star Caleb Williams with the first pick in the draft.

The Bears initially traded up to select Fields with the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was Chicago’s primary starter for three seasons but compiled a record of just 10-28 in 38 starts with the team.

Here’s a look at what the Bears acquired for Fields and why the Steelers opted to trade for the 25-year-old quarterback.

Justin Fields trade details

Steelers receive:

  • QB Justin Fields

Bears receive:

  • 2025 sixth-round pick (can become fourth-round pick)

The Bears acquired a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick as part of their deal to send Fields to the Steelers.

Chicago’s willingness to move on from Fields was sensible, as the trade frees the Bears up to pursue Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. The USC product has superstar potential and will spend his early NFL days on a cost-controlled contract.

Comparatively, Fields was in the final year of his rookie contract and Chicago had a choice to make about his $25.6 million fifth-year option. He posted decent numbers during his time with the Bears and improved as a passer in each of his three seasons. One could argue that his 2023 season — during which he completed a career-best 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,562 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions while adding 657 yards and four touchdowns on the ground — was his best.

However, despite Fields’ improvement, his 86.3 passer rating ranked just 22nd league-wide out of 32 qualified quarterbacks. That ranking roughly matched his Pro Football Focus grade, where he was ranked 21st for the season out of 38 qualified passers.

So, even with three years of development, Fields looks like a below-average quarterback. That and his .263 winning percentage convinced the Bears to seek out a higher-end signal caller in Williams.

Fields could prove to be a long-term solution for the Steelers. Kenny Pickett’s passer rating of 81.4 was the sixth-worst among quarterbacks last season, and he was traded Friday after Pittsburgh decided to move forward with Russell Wilson as its starter.

While Wilson is still in line to start in 2023, he is only on a one-year deal and will turn 36 in November. The veteran is also coming off a pair of underwhelming seasons with the Broncos.

As such, Fields became a practical target for the Steelers. He’s a decade younger than Wilson and can make a massive impact with his legs, something Pittsburgh hasn’t had at quarterback throughout the last two decades. 

While Friday’s trade of Pickett left the Steelers without a potential long-term solution at quarterback, the arrival of Fields offers Mike Tomlin an intriguing option behind his new veteran signal-caller.

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