The Bears have moved past the fateful decision to trade up for a quarterback by . . . trading up for a quarterback.
That said, the move from No. 20 to No. 11 to land Justin Fields should go a long way toward persuading Bears fans and Chicago media to realize that G.M. Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy aren’t leaving within the next 12 months. And they shouldn’t be.
For starters, the team has been to the playoffs twice in three years. Before that, eight years had transpired between postseason appearances. Even so, there has been a nagging sense that both Pace and Nagy were on notice, and that a bad 2021 could mean no 2022, for either or both of them.
The trade up for Fields, four years after the fateful trade up for Mitchell Trubisky, means that the organization is willing to keep Pace and Nagy (who arrived in 2018) long enough to find out what they have in Fields — or that the front office is willing to risk replacing G.M. and/or coach with a new G.M. and/or coach who doesn’t want Fields.
Hopefully (and presumably) it’s the former. The Bears have made their latest move for a franchise quarterback, and it would be foolish to have Pace and Nagy on the hot seat while they figure out whether Fields will be the guy.
If Fields fails, Pace and Nagy will surely be gone. Ditto for team president Ted Phillips, who quite possibly made the recommendation to ownership to surrender next year’s first-round pick knowing that, like G.M. and coach, he’s pinning his own future to the move, too. If Fields flourishes, then the Bears will be better than they’ve been in a while, and the fans may finally forget that they could have had Patrick Mahomes and simply be happy that they have Justin Fields.