Bears double down on their Justin Fields investment in reported deal with Panthers for No. 1 NFL Draft pick

It’s never easy to know whether head coaches and general managers should be taken at their word, especially after a disappointing season.

And if they get the first pick in the upcoming draft, well, all bets are off.

It turns out that in the weeks following the end of last Chicago Bears season, head coach Matt Eberfluth and general manager Ryan Poles were asked about quarterback Justin Fields, they weren’t just blowing smoke when they talked about “big step” he took last season – and that Fields “on a right way” and should just focus on small improvements and adjustments to his game.

They really believe in Fields’ ability to lead the Bears and are keen to make sure he has what it takes to do so.

November 6, 2022;  Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Melvin Ingram (6) in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field.  Miami defeated Chicago 35-32.  Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Bears QB Justin Fields has received many penalties in the 2022 season. (Jamie Sabau/USA TODAY Sports)

On Friday night, Chicago reportedly traded the top pick in next month’s draft to the Carolina Panthers, who have moved up from No. 9 to a first and second round pick this year, a first round pick next year, and a second round in 2025.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Bears also acquired a top receiver, DJ Moore. Panthers beat reporter Joe Person on Twitter that getting Moore, a first-round pick in 2018, who averaged 72 catches and 1,000+ yards a season with the Carolinas (despite playing 11 starting quarterbacks during that time), was considered a must for Chicago in the deal .

Moore had 63 receptions and seven touchdowns last season, a career-high despite playing three boring quarterbacks. That was far more than the Bears’ top wide receiver, Darnell Mooney. He only had 40 catches, with 50 tight ends Cole Kmet leading the team. Chicago wide receivers totaled 121 field goals last season, the worst in the league.

Moore has already signed an extension with the Panthers and is currently under contract until 2025.

What’s more, Chicago made that deal before free agency officially kicks off on Wednesday, meaning it could be even more strategic about adding players, mixing seasoned veterans with youth it hopes will become core members. commands. With Moore’s base salary of $19.9 million for 2023, the Bears still have the league’s best record of $75 million in terms of salary cap, though of course some of that amount will go to their draft class. .

Fields was fired 55 times last season, the most in the NFL, so he needs help on offense. But the team that had the first pick in the draft has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Bears had just 20 sacks and 43 quarterback hits in 2022 as they traded eventual Pro Bowl linebacker Roquan Smith in November. The Bears had no professional bowlers.

Rumor has it that the Arizona Cardinals could trade Deandre Hopkins, adding another strong wide receiver. Veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner is a free agent and one of the league’s most respected leaders. There are some solid hitters, including rising right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who is only 25 and started every game of his first four seasons with Jacksonville.

It’s been a difficult decade for Bears fans since Lovie Smith was fired: four head coaches, three general managers, just two postseason games, and a lot of boring quarterback play. Smith led Chicago to its final Super Bowl appearance of the 2006 season. according to To some fans, he deserves Credit to Friday’s Catch: After Smith’s Houston Texans beat the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18, the Bears got the No. 1 pick, setting the stage for that trade.

With a new head coach and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy for his second season, Fields began to blossom and had some amazing moments and games despite having little to no help from his line or receivers.

They say, “Flower where you’re planted,” and Fields did it on less than fertile soil.

Of course, there is more to do and it will be easier as Chicago is clearly committed to its rising young star and is building a team around him that will hopefully allow him to play to his strengths and bring joy back to a proud franchise that is struggling to find its own. support for years.


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