June 18, 2024

C.J. Stroud Offers Bears Advice on Justin Fields After Team Passed on Him in 2023

The Chicago Bears face a decision between Justin Fields and the No. 1 pick that has players across the NFL offering their two cents, including Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud.

During an interview with USA Today Sports, a reporter asked the Houston Texans quarterback if the Bears should hold onto Fields. The JPAFootball X account reposted a TikTok video of Stroud’s response on Tuesday, February 20.

The Chicago Bears need to avoid drafting a quarterback at all costs

“They should, if they’re smart,” Stroud said in response. “But, you know.”

“It’s the Bears,” the reporter said back, making a small dig at the franchise’s long history of striking out at the quarterback position.

Stroud laughed before adding, “You said it, not me.”


Bears’ Decision Not to Draft C.J. Stroud in 2023 Has Created More Pressure to Select Caleb Williams

 

Chicago held the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft as well, but chose to trade that selection to the Carolina Panthers in return for two first-round selections, two second-rounders and wide receiver DJ Moore.

That move looks legitimate now, after Moore had the best season of his career while partnered with Fields and Carolina’s 2024 pick became the No. 1 selection. However, the Bears could have used their top pick last year to draft Stroud, who was not only the Rookie of the Year but was in the MVP conversation late into the season.

He ended up leading the Texans to the playoffs in his first year under center and authored a dismantling of the Cleveland Browns‘ top-rated defense on Wildcard Weekend before falling to the Baltimore Ravens during the Divisional Round.

Somewhat ironically, it is partly because of Chicago’s decision to pass on Stroud in 2023 that there is so much pressure on general manager Ryan Poles to draft quarterback Caleb Williams of USC with the top pick in April. Williams has drawn more player comps to Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs than any other prospect since Mahomes entered the NFL seven years ago.

If Williams turns out to be even a poor man’s Mahomes and the Bears pass on him, that will likely be the downfall of the current regime in Chicago — particularly in the context of having also passed on Stroud in favor of Fields the year prior.

Bears Appear Unlikely to Follow C.J. Stroud’s Advice on Justin Fields

 

Justin Fields, Bears

GettyQuarterback Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.

 

The decision in Chicago between Fields and drafting a QB with the top pick — presumably Williams — isn’t easy, though it is relatively simple.

Fields has been OK, not great, through his first three years. He has not developed into the type of NFL passer that the team might have hoped, and he is about to enter the final season of his initial rookie contract. Come 2025, Fields will get expensive on a fifth-year team option. After that, the Bears will need to pay him like a legitimate starter in the league, which could mean upwards of $45 or $50 million per year.

Williams, on the other hand, is largely viewed around the league as a prospect who can’t miss. He will play on a cost-controlled rookie deal for the next four seasons, and Chicago will retain a fifth-year team option on him as well as a first-round draft pick.

Even if Williams is simply as effective as Fields over his first three years in the league, drafting him is a win because of how much cheaper it keeps the QB position in Chicago through almost the end of this decade. That will allow the front office to continue to build out the roster on both sides of the football, which should afford Williams as good of a chance to succeed as any young signal-caller in the NFL.

Unfortunately for Fields, the dominoes simply fell the wrong way for him in Chicago. But the Bears should be able to get a second-round pick back for him in trade, while Fields will get a fresh start with a new franchise heading into his age-25 season.

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