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Potential Trade Partners for Justin Fields and Potential Return for the Bears

A year ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles announced that his team was open for business — the first pick in the 2023 draft was available.

“We need a lot, and that (first pick) gives us more opportunity to bring in more players,” Poles said then. “It’s a good situation to be in for where our club is.”

The combine then became an information-gathering mission for Poles and the Bears. They needed to do their due diligence on the quarterback class, which included interviews with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

But Poles also needed to leave Indianapolis with an accurate gauge of the trade market for the first pick — and he got it. A few days after the combine concluded, the Bears traded the first pick to the Carolina Panthers.

The goals for Poles at this year’s combine should be similar. The Bears will meet with the best quarterbacks: USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and potentially others.

And then Poles also will have trade markets to feel out through his conversations with other GMs. Similar to last year, one market could be for the first pick. Another could be for current starter Justin Fields.

For Poles and the Bears, what’s the greater risk? Is it sticking with a quarterback who has the belief of his teammates but still ranks in the bottom third in the league in many statistical areas? Or is it passing on the best QBs in the draft for the second year in a row?

Which teams could be interested in Fields?

According to NFL.com, 66 quarterbacks started for teams during the 2023 season. That’s a lot. But two more started for teams during the 2022 season. That’s wild.

Teams are always looking for quarterbacks — and some won’t be able to find answers in free agency or in the draft. Unlike other teams, the Bears have certainty with the first pick.

There were 12 quarterbacks included in Randy Mueller’s rankings of the top 150 free agents for The Athletic. Only two of them — the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Baker Mayfield — made the top 20. San Francisco 49ers backup Sam Darnold was next at No. 98.

The trade market comes next. Teams will seek certainty at the most important position in sports heading into the draft. There could be a competitive market for Fields.

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