Yes, the Bears have earned the first pick in the 2023 draft. That doesn’t mean they should give up on the quarterback who presided over a season bad enough to put them in that position.
Quarterback Justin Fields, a first-round pick who was selected by the prior regime, could in theory be traded, allowing the Bears to take, for example, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 pick. But that would be a mistake, for multiple reasons.
First, Fields has proven that he has real potential. He’s already the best running quarterback in the league. It’s up to the Bears to build a passing game around his next-level rushing skills. Given his threat to slip past the defensive linemen and gain 50 or more yards at any given time, it shouldn’t be that hard to get more out of his overall abilities with his arm.
Second, there’s no guarantee that Young or any other first-round quarterback will become a great player. It’s a coin flip, a tossup, a crapshoot — every year. It makes no sense to trade in a winning lottery ticket for an unscratched one.
Third, think of the pressure that Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud would feel if they became not only the No. 1 overall pick but also the guy who prompted the Bears to give up on Fields. It’s already hard enough for a first-round quarterback to operate under the weight of ridiculous expectations. It becomes even harder if the next player must justify the move by quickly outperforming the man he replaced.
It would be similar to the pressure that Trey Lance has faced in San Francisco, after the 49ers ultimately devoted three first-round picks and more to get him.It sets the bar too high, makes it too hard to be regarded as a success.
No, the Bears should stick with the guy they have. But they also should carefully scout the incoming quarterbacks, in order to most effectively negotiate with any team that may try to trade up to the top spot in order to secure one of them. In the end, the Bears could end up with more than enough assets to build a team of players that Field can lead to the playoffs on a consistent basis.