One of the more popular offseason storylines in the NFL may reach a conclusion before we even hit March.
The Chicago Bears hold the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, yet already have a promising young quarterback on the roster in Justin Fields. Still, speculation has arisen throughout the offseason that Chicago may consider trading Fields and selecting one of the top QB prospects in the draft.
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter pushed back on the idea Monday morning, implying that the Bears are much more likely to keep Fields and trade out of the slot for a haul of additional picks.
“The Bears already have been approached by multiple teams about trading the draft’s No. 1 overall pick, and Chicago is said to be ‘leaning toward’ moving the pick,” Schefter wrote in a tweet. “So the No. 1 pick now looks like it’s for sale.”
Schefter is not the first NFL insider to suggest the Bears may move back in April’s draft. Earlier in February, the MMQB’s Albert Breer went on “The Rich Eisen Show” and offered a similar report.
“My sense is that they’re going to move forward with Justin Fields and try to trade the first pick,” Breer said. “Could that change based on their evaluation of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson? Sure. But I’ve talked to enough people there that feel like Justin didn’t ー there wasn’t enough around Justin to get a really clean evaluation on him last year, and given what he had, what he did was really, really impressive.”
Fields proved himself to be an electric playmaker in 2022, his second NFL season. While his passing numbers were paltry (2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions), he rushed for 1,143 yards – the second most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.
The 23-year-old also dealt with injuries, a subpar offensive line and a receiving corps that lost Darnell Mooney halfway through the season. Chase Claypool was brought in halfway through the year, but he struggled to make an impact with a short time to acclimate.
If Chicago general manager Ryan Poles does trade back, they would likely still end up picking in the top 10 – if not the top five – along with adding a number of premium draft picks in the process. The Houston Texans (picking at No. 2) and Indianapolis Colts (No. 4) are among the teams that could be interested in a quarterback, with Colts owner Jim Irsay even openly flirting with the Bears on Twitter.
The last team to trade out of the No. 1 overall pick was the Titans in 2016, when the Rams moved up to select quarterback Jared Goff. In exchange, Tennessee received two first-rounders, two second-rounders and two third-rounders. The value of first-round quarterbacks on rookie contracts has only gone up in recent years, meaning Chicago could theoretically fetch even more in a trade.
We’re still two months out from the draft, and things could certainly change – or Chicago could fail to get an offer they deem worthy of moving off the No. 1 pick for. However, all signs seem to be pointing to a trade at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft.