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Chicago Bears March Scouting Report
Richard Fung


On March 16th, the Bears traded QB Justin Fields to the Steelers for a 2025 sixth-round pick that could turn into a fourth-rounderbased on playing time. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Fields was always going to be traded. His fate was essentially sealed once the Bears officially secured the #1 pick and the ability to draft USC’s Caleb Williams. Based on Fields’ dynamic playmaking ability, leadership qualities, and his improvement in the second half of last season, GM Ryan Poles was understandably seeking at least a Day 2 pick in this year’s draft. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst-kept secrets in the league that the Bears were likely to move on from Fields. Hehad only a year left on his rookie contract, with a fifth-year option decision and a potential megabucks contract looming large. That, combined with the fact that most of the teams interested in Justin looked at him as a backup because of his passing struggles, resulted in Poles getting an insulting return for such a talented player.


As for why the Bears traded Fields instead of trading the #1 pick for another haul and building around him... the goal is to win the Super Bowl, right? If you’re going to win a Super Bowl, there’sa pretty good chance that you’ll have to beatPatrick Mahomes in that game. What happened when Fields went up against Mahomes last season? Justin had one of the worst games of his career. You need a quarterback who at least has a reasonable shot at beating someone like Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow in a Super Bowl. Fields, based on what we’ve seen in three years, was unlikely to ever become that guy.


Enter Caleb Williams. If he’s as "generational" as many think he is (and some people have compared him to Mahomes because of his amazing off-script abilities), then he gives the Bears a much better chance of outdueling one of the AFC’s top signal callers if they can get to the big game. If Poles had kept Fields and passed on Williams, and Caleb became the second coming of Mahomes, the Bears essentially would’ve passed on Mahomes twice (and CJ Stroud once) in the past seven years. How do you even come back from that? Getting the #1 pick from the Panthers, in a draft year with a generational quarterback prospect, was a gift. You know what they say about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Thankfully, Poles decided to accept the gift with open arms.


In the days after the trade, many accused the Bears of failing Fields. Did they fail him? Yes, in some ways. Matt Nagy and Co threw Fields to the wolves in his rookie season, and he barely survived his debut in Cleveland. After Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were fired, Poles had to strip down the roster and rebuild, leaving Justin without much help around him. And he had to deal with an inexperienced OC in Luke Getsy the past two years. But make no mistake, Fieldtakesa lot of the blame here as well. He left way too many plays on the table because of his hesitance/refusal to throw the ball, even when receivers were wide open (or at least "NFL open"). He often took off and ran too early instead of buying timeand keeping his eyes downfield for a chunk play. Even with the addition of WR DJ Moore, Fields didn’t take the leap as a passer that many hoped for. There was blame on both sides, and that usually is the case in a failed marriage.


In a sense, it’s fitting that Justin was traded to Pittsburgh, the site of one of his most promising performances. On Monday Night Football in his rookie year, Fields made some brilliant throws in a dramatic comeback, including a perfect pass to Darnell Mooney for a go-ahead TD late in the fourth quarter. The Bears lost the game, but Justin threw for 291 yards. Alas, performances like that were the exception and not the norm, and that’s why he’s not here anymore.


Why didn’t Poles just hold onto him into the draft, training camp, or the preseason in an effort to extract more value? Because he wanted to "do right" by Fields by sending him to a place where he has a better chance of getting on the field, and because having Fields and Williams on the same roster would’ve been an untenable situation with so many Fields supporters in the locker room. The Fields vs Williams debate had already caused a civil war in the Bears fanbase, and it was truly coming to a head with plenty of toxicity on both sides on social media.Ultimately, Justin Fields ran out of time. Whichever side of the debate you were on, all you can do is wish him all the best and move forward. And I, for one, could not be more excited about the Caleb Williams era.


Running back

On March 13th, the first day of free agency (this was literally the first signing of the day), the Bears signed RB D’Andre Swift to a three-year, $24 million deal. Last month, I said that I felt the team could at least use a pass-catching back like an Austin Ekeler, but Swift was not really on my radar. There were reports in the days leading up to free agency that the Bears could be players for Saquon Barkley, but he wound up being too expensive. I think the Swift signing is a good one... if he can stay healthy. He brings home-run hitting speed and a true receiving threat, two things that this backfield was lacking. Swift becomes the Bears’ lead back, with RB Khalil Herbert and RB Roschon Johnson behind him.


Wide receiver

On March 14th, the Bears stunned everyone by trading for Chargers star WR Keenan Allen, acquiring him for only a fourth-rounder in this year’s draft. Coming off the best season of his career, the 31-year-old six-time Pro Bowler refused to take a pay cut going into the final year of his contract, and the cash-strapped Chargers decided to move him. Yes, he is on the wrong side of 30, but this is a huge acquisition for a rookie quarterback. Allen is an expert technician as a route runner who can get open pretty much whenever he wants. He will be an invaluable resource for Williams, especially on third downs. Allen even showed up to Williams’ pro day to support his likely future quarterback.Teaming Allen up with Moore gives the Bears their best receiving duo since Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. On March 15th, the Bears brought back WR Dante Pettis on a one-year deal to provide depth at wideout and as a returner.


Tight end

On March 13th, the Bears signed TE Gerald Everett to a two-year, $12 million contract. He spent the past two seasons with the Chargers, where he played with Allen and was coached for some of that time by new Bears receivers coach Chris Beatty. He also played under new OC Shane Waldron with the Rams and Seahawks. Everett brings excellent run-after-catch ability for a tight end and should be a nice complement to TE Cole Kmet.


Offensive line

Center was a big problem for the Bears last season, and so Poles went out and got two of them. On March 4th, Chicago acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Bills for a 2024 fifth-rounder. Poles signed him to an offer sheet two years ago, but Buffalo matched it. Bates can play center or guard, and it looks like he’ll be the starting center. On March 14th, the Bears signed C Coleman Shelton to a one-year deal. He started every game for the Rams last seasonand also played under Waldron for some of his time there.The team has also signed OL Matt Pryor and T Jake Curhan to one-year deals.


Defense/Special teams

On March 10th (my birthday), Chicago signed S Kevin Byard to a two-year, $15 million deal to replace Eddie Jackson. He has a reputation as a ballhawk, with 28 INTs in eight seasons. Some have criticized the deal, saying that the Bears overpaid for a 30-year-old, and that Byard wasn’t able to help turn the Eagles’ D around after they traded for him last season. Well, I don’t know if anyone was going to turn around that mess in Philly. Did the Bears overpay? Based on what other free agent safeties got, perhaps. But we’ll see how he does. Over the past couple weeks, the Bears have also signed LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, S Jonathan Owens (husband of gymnastics GOAT Simone Biles), and DE Jake Martin.


More to come next month!



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