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Justin Fields trade fallout: Winners/losers from quarterback deal between Bears and Steelers

What a long, strange trip this has been for Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears, but on Saturday night -- after a week of quarterbacking musical chairs played out during the start of free agency -- Fields was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2025 sixth-round pick that could become a fourth-rounder depending on playing time. Fields will back up Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh, and while that might sound bad at first blush for a former starter and first-round draft pick, it also could be the best possible backup job for Fields to have. We explain more in our winners and losers.


Pittsburgh Steelers
2023 record: 10-7

The Steelers have transformed their quarterback room from Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett to Russell Wilson and Fields for negligible compensation in cash -- $4.5 million total for both this year -- and draft picks. Getting Fields, who still has tremendous upside, for a low-round draft pick is a steal. Pittsburgh now has a highly motivated Wilson as the starter and a potential future starter who can watch Wilson and be tutored by offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. After initially not being fully ready for life after Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers may finally have their succession plan. And in the ferociously competitive AFC North, they have perhaps the best backup in the league as insurance if Wilson struggles or gets hurt. General manager Omar Khan has been busy -- don’t forget Pittsburgh's other big free-agent signing, linebacker Patrick Queen -- and he has engineered a massive upgrade at quarterback while taking on very little risk. 

Justin Fields
Pittsburgh Steelers · QB

The last week could not have been easy for Fields, as everyone from Kirk Cousins to Nathan Peterman landed a new job while he was left waiting. Once it became clear that there would be no starting opportunity for him, he landed in the perfect spot to restart his career. Wilson is signed for just one year, which -- assuming Russ remains the starter -- can be viewed as an apprenticeship for Fields, while the Steelers now have the rights to his fifth-year option. Plus, he lands on a team with a top defense, a solid running attack and an offense that utilizes the play-action pass, which should simplify the game for Fields. Fields, still just 25 and fresh off the best season of his pro career, now has real hope that he will have a future. 

Caleb Williams

Any shred of suspense is gone: The Bears will draft a quarterback with the first overall pick, and it will be Williams. He will arrive in Chicago without the very popular incumbent still in the locker room, a gift the Bears gave to Williams with this trade. 


Chicago Bears
2023 record: 7-10

With starting and backup jobs vacuumed up in the opening days of free agency, the Bears faced a soft market for Fields and pressure to move him before the draft so that Williams could arrive with a clean slate. That’s how you turn the 11th overall pick into a conditional Day 3 selection. General manager Ryan Poles had to make the deal, of that there is no debate. But the question that will always hang over the Bears is what they might have gotten if they had agreed to a trade earlier or what they could have gotten if they had traded Fields before last year’s draft and selected C.J. Stroud instead. 

New York Jets
2023 record: 7-10

If the Bears got only a conditional sixth-round pick for Fields, who played reasonably well last season, what can the Jets hope to receive in a trade for Zach Wilson, whom they want to move with even fewer backup jobs available?

Kenny Pickett
Philadelphia Eagles · QB

Pickett wanted out of Pittsburgh after the Steelers signed Wilson, and he was traded to the Eagles -- who have a superstar starting quarterback with a lucrative contract, giving Pickett almost no chance to be the starter, barring a serious injury to Jalen Hurts. Pickett’s departure created the opening for Fields to become the Steelers’ heir apparent. 

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