The trade market for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is heating up with the NFL in Indianapolis for the combine.
The Chicago Bears are “leaning toward” trading the first overall pick and already have been contacted by multiple teams looking to move up, ESPN reported on Monday.
On Tuesday, Bears general manager Ryan Poles was asked at the NFL Combine whether or not Justin Fields would be Chicago’s starting quarterback next season.
“That’s the plan right now,” said Poles, who added that the Bears will do their homework on this year’s quarterback class. That, of course, leaves the door open for other possibilities.
There has been much debate about whether the Bears should use the No. 1 pick on a quarterback like Alabama’s Bryce Young (scouting report) or build their roster around Fields.
Clay Harbor, former NFL tight end and an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes the Bears should stick with Fields. Harbor thinks Chicago can recreate the Philadelphia Eagles‘ strategy, building around Fields the way Philadelphia built around Jalen Hurts.
Despite all the speculation, the Bears have said they would likely stick with Fields, which Poles affirmed again on Tuesday. In an interview last month, the GM said he’d have to be “blown away” by a potential top quarterback to draft them.
>>READ: The 33rd Team’s Mock Draft 3.2
The No. 1 pick has been traded 12 times before the start of the draft since the 1967 AFL-NFL merger. The most recent example is when the Los Angeles Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans to draft Jared Goff in 2016. The Rams’ package included two first-round picks, second-round picks, and third-round picks.
Previously, the Atlanta Falcons were the last team to move up to No. 1 overall when they selected Michael Vick in 2002.
>> READ: The 33rd Team’s NFL Draft Big Board
The Bears finished 3-14 last season, and Fields is just 5-20 as Chicago’s starter across the past two seasons. Still, Fields showed some improvement in 2022. His passing touchdowns increased from seven to 17, and his completion percentage rose from 58.9 percent to 60.4 percent.
“People are talking about trading Justin Fields and using that pick to go get another quarterback,” said Chuck Pagano, an analyst for The 33rd Team and former head coach of the Colts when Indianapolis had the No. 1 pick in 2012 and took QB Andrew Luck. “To me, it’s easy — [the Bears have] a franchise quarterback [in Fields], based on what I’ve seen in one year’s time with Luke Getsy as the OC over there, and with [head coach Matt] Eberflus, that kid can be special.”
Fields made his mark with his legs, though. He finished this past season with 1,143 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Fields’ 1,143 rushing yards is second all-time for a quarterback in a single season behind Lamar Jackson’s 1,206 yards in 2019.