The Chicago Bears won’t tell anybody what their plans at quarterback are. This is because they don’t yet know themselves. There are seven games left in the season. GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus need answers from Justin Fields before making an informed decision on the future. The 24-year-old played two of his best games as a pro before his untimely injury against Minnesota. Chicago wants to see if he really has turned the corner or if it was merely the product of a favorable stretch of schedule.
There are multiple ways these next few months can go for the Bears. Most believe it is one of two paths, but things are never that simple in the NFL. I put together the five most plausible scenarios that could unfold for them, ranked by most likely to least likely.
The Chicago Bears will have several paths forward.
1. Draft a new starter in the top 5
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Much of this depends on whether that pick from Carolina ends up in one of the first two slots. If that happens, there is a growing belief that Poles will decide to make the change at quarterback, landing either USC’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Both have played well in 2023 despite their team struggles. Debates rage over who is the superior option, but most analysts agree both should end up being good starters in the NFL. Poles likely hopes to restart the clock at quarterback, re-opening the rookie contract window.
2. Stick with Justin Fields
The Chicago Bears still have one cheap year left on Fields’ rookie contract. There is a chance both of their 1st round picks in 2024 don’t end up high enough to land Maye or Williams. In that scenario, the smart play is using those picks to bolster the rest of the roster while giving Fields one more year. He’ll have even more help around him and enter a third season in the same offense. Either that, or the Bears could try to hire a new coaching staff who can put a system in place that fits him better.
3. Roll with Tyson Bagent
People already proclaimed the undrafted rookie a lost cause after four starts despite him going 2-2 and showing legitimate flashes of effectiveness. If Bagent can look that efficient with almost no experience in this offense and against this level of talent, giving him an entire season isn’t as crazy as many will make it sound. The Bears know he can run the offense at a decent level. With a little more time and a better supporting cast, maybe he really can be their version of Brock Purdy.
4. Grab a QB on Day 2 of the draft
There is so much hype around Maye and Williams that it’s easy to forget this might be a deeper quarterback class than people realize. Washington’s Michael Penix and Oregon’s Bo Nix have both been outstanding this season. Jayden Daniels is ascending fast at LSU as well. All three still have a chance to be available on the second day of the draft. All have the necessary talent to start on Sundays. If the Bears can’t get the top two guys, they can maneuver for other players in the 1st round and circle back for a QB in the 2nd or 3rd.
5. Sign or trade for a veteran
If the Bears are dead set on moving on from Fields but aren’t in a good enough position to draft somebody, they could opt to seek a veteran option on the free agent or trade market. Some interesting names will be available on the former, including Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill, and Gardner Minshew. As for trades, this is never easy to predict. Volatile situations should always be taken into account. Knowing this, Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, and Jimmy Garoppolo are possibilities.