Justin Fields Landing Spots: Panthers, Colts, and Buccaneers Make Sense If Bears Trade QB

What if the Bears are open to trading QB Justin Fields? Here are teams that should consider trading for him, including the Panthers and Colts.

The 2023 NFL offseason is going to bring plenty of rumors between free agency and the NFL draft. The Chicago Bears landed the No. 1 overall pick, and we immediately saw speculation as to whether the team should trade quarterback Justin Fields. Fields, who started to develop into a star playmaker throughout the 2022 season, is entering his third season next year.

The Bears have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Trading Fields now could restart the clock on their rebuilding efforts with a quarterback who has a fresh five-year contract. Though it would be incredibly risky and not something I’d do if I were the Bears, there will continue to be speculation.

Let’s dive into Fields’ value and the five teams that should be interested in Fields.

Value of Justin Fields Trade

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that multiple NFL general managers he talked to at the NFL Senior Bowl believed Fields will be traded this offseason. In what appears to be a good but divisive rookie quarterback class, Fields can offer quarterback-needy teams a blend of youth, upside, and relative value.

Teams that may not have a top-five pick or an interest in moving multiple firsts to trade up could find Fields to be a more affordable alternative.

It’s always hard to correctly gauge what players could be traded for because teams don’t make deals purely based on talent. Contract situations matter, and player reputations do as well.

Only a handful of player-for-draft capital deals in NFL history stand out because they feature several first-round picks, and good players are often moved for what feels like too little as teams overvalue picks.

That being said, the Bears would be foolish to accept less than a first-round pick in return for Fields. He was a dynamic passer at Ohio State and has proven to be an elite athlete at QB in Chicago.

I have no doubt he can show rapid improvement with a better offensive design and upgrades at wideout compared to the tough situation Chicago has saddled him with through two years.

5 Teams That Should Trade for Justin Fields

Carolina Panthers

Fresh off hiring Frank Reich to be their head coach, the Carolina Panthers have quickly built a team closer to being playoff-relevant than a true rebuilding effort. Their defense has a handful of young building blocks, and their offense is mostly a quarterback away. Reich was brought in to get the most out of a young quarterback, making Fields especially intriguing.

Carolina may wince at the price to trade up from the No. 9 pick into the top-six, instead preferring to give their selection for Fields. Reich’s willingness to feature spread RPO principles with favorable route concepts can replicate what Fields experienced in college.

It also helps Carolina has star receiver DJ Moore and could retain productive running back D’Onta Foreman if they choose.

The Panthers unit still needs bolstering along the offensive line, but having a modern scheme and stud playmakers to create easier looks for Fields would go a long way. This is one of the stronger fits in terms of coaching strengths and tendencies and would represent a big upgrade for both the team and the player.

Indianapolis Colts

How about Reich’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts? The Colts went back to the Eagles’ coaching tree with former OC Shane Steichen, who is fresh off developing two immensely gifted athletes in Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts. I’d argue Fields is even more talented than Hurts and could produce like the two MVP candidates in the right situation.

Getting Fields would give the Colts an immensely high ceiling on offense. Certain things need to happen, including the offensive line returning to its 2021 peak after a disappointing 2022 campaign, and adding another receiving threat.

However, if Fields proves to be as talented as I suspect and Steichen can continue working magic as he crafts a scheme around Fields’ gifts, the Colts can win the AFC South in 2023.

The Colts, armed with the fourth pick in the draft, have more to consider than other teams if they’re forced to surrender that pick for Fields. Maybe they could get away with their 2024 first-round pick and their 2023 second-round pick instead. But if not, trading the fourth pick for Fields would be a bold vote of confidence in him over the rookie pool.

Washington Commanders

Being stuck in the middle of the first round makes the Washington Commanders a prime candidate to trade for or sign a veteran passer. None of the class’ top-four passers will fall to their 16th overall pick. I don’t think Washington is bluffing with their enthusiasm around Sam Howell, but they must consider trading for Fields if it’s possible.

Fields is simply more dynamic and capable of elevating Ron Rivera’s offense based on his traits. Consider the potential addition of Eric Bieniemy as offensive coordinator, and the Commanders’ offense would have the tools to be significantly more explosive next year.

A core of Fields, Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson would be the best unit the Commanders have built in years.

There’s little downside for Washington, though Chicago might not want to keep Fields within the NFC in a trade. Rivera previously worked with Cam Newton, who had their Panthers teams on the brink of a Super Bowl win at one point. Fields is more naturally accurate than Newton but still developing his feel as a playmaker.

Atlanta Falcons

Why not pair the NFL’s best rushing quarterback in 2022 with one of the best overall running teams in the Atlanta Falcons? There’s little projection here, as the Falcons and Bears heavily relied upon the ground game to be competitive. The difference is that Atlanta has better playmakers and a better passing scheme to improve Fields’ production.

It may also be attractive for Fields to return to the state of Georgia, where he was born and first attended the University of Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. The idea of playing with Kyle Pitts and Drake London is also incredibly tantalizing. The Falcons mistakenly passed on Fields for Pitts in 2021, but pairing them together would be explosive.

Trading the eighth overall pick for Fields isn’t too much if the Falcons don’t love the idea of settling for the fourth-best QB in the 2023 class or missing out on one entirely. Again, though, Chicago may not want to hand Atlanta such an explosive player who could come back to haunt the Bears in the NFC.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Another NFC South team that has to consider trading for Fields is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is the most desperate team on our list. They’re deeply in the red for cap space and have a veteran roster that either needs purging or an impactful quarterback added to it.

Without a total tear down, this team might not be bad enough to position itself for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in 2024.

Armed with the 19th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and a host of veterans who could potentially be dangled in a trade, the Buccaneers can boldly offer Chicago more picks, knowing they can compete with Fields right away.

Being less afraid to give up significant draft capital, as they’re more likely to compete for the playoffs in 2023 than their divisional peers, can be an advantage in trade talks.

New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales gained experience working with Geno Smith and Russell Wilson in Seattle. Having a strong-armed, vertical passing quarterback like Fields should feel quite familiar for Canales. Then, there’s the unquestioned boost Fields would benefit from with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at his disposal.

Tampa has the motivation, assets, and current situation that’s best for Fields to quickly reach new heights, but that might be the reason Chicago shies away from a deal with the Bucs, as they’re also in the NFC.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Stories

Related Articles