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2024 NFL Draft: Why the Bears Shouldn’t Invest in Caleb Williams and Should Focus on Justin Fields?

Published 04/02/2024, 3:56 PM EDT

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New does not always mean better. And it was this very thought that governed the latest episode of the Under Center Podcast, where former NFL player Dwight Freeney offered his insights into the quarterback dilemma facing the Chicago Bears. According to Freeney, the team’s priority should have been to strengthen the support around their existing franchise quarterback, Justin Fields rather than considering drafting the potential No.1 Draft Pick of 2024, Caleb Williams.

Just a couple of years ago, Justin Fields was hailed as the Chicago Bears’ quarterback of the future. Fields even clinched a respectable ninth-place spot in the MVP voting for the 2022 season. However, his journey has been riddled with obstacles, and ahead of the NFL 2024, the Bears have taken a harsh call. However, “the grass is not always greener on the other side,” and opting for an entirely new talent only comes with a high-risk factor. 

Dwight Freeney sides with Justin Fields 

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Despite Justin Fields’ remarkable running abilities, concerns had persisted regarding his accuracy, with a completion rate of 61.4% which places him among the lower ranks of NFL quarterbacks. Additionally, scouts had pointed out issues with his field of vision, compounded by his 30 interceptions over 38 career starts, Fields remains a work in progress, particularly given the upheaval of two regime changes within just three seasons which might have been instrumental in his trade to the Steelers. Yet Dwight Freeney acknowledges the fact that, “It is not easy to make it in national football,” and Fields is indeed “hard-working.” Many have witnessed “a high draft pick fall flat on his face,” and according to him, it is always better for a team to build around a talent that they are familiar with instead of hiring new talent as a replacement since one can never be sure of how the new talent is going to perform under new leadership. 

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The Chicago Bears found themselves in a predicament despite holding the first overall pick after finishing the season with a 7-10 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. With a roster featuring talents like D.J. Moore, Montez Sweat, Jaylon Johnson, and Kyler Gordon, the Bears appeared to be in a transitional phase rather than a full rebuild. Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy recipient, offers a contrasting skill set that could bring the consistency the Bears crave.

The Caleb Williams led Chicago Bears era

In a surprising move, the Chicago Bears traded former standout quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for additional draft picks. The decision reflects concerns within the Bears organization about Fields’ skill set and future prospects. Despite Fields’ impressive athleticism and potential, accuracy has remained a persistent issue, with his completion percentage ranking among the league’s lowest. While Fields is not yet a finished product at 25 years old, the Bears’ competitive roster and close proximity to playoff contention influenced their decision to part ways with the young quarterback.

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With the NFL Draft looming, the Chicago Bears are poised to make some significant moves. It’s widely speculated that they will select Caleb Williams as the top pick, following thorough evaluations by Bears’ general manager Ryan Poles and the offensive staff. Williams’ leadership qualities and positive reviews from teammates have made him a standout choice for the team. In a parallel development, the Bears are also exploring the possibility of acquiring Mike Williams from the Los Angeles Chargers. The potential trade stems from the Chargers’ concerns about salary cap constraints and Mike Williams’ ongoing recovery from an ACL injury. This move could potentially bolster the Bears’ receiving corps and add depth to their offensive lineup. 

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Written by:

Anushka Laha

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Anushka Laha is an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. She identifies and relates to the finer on and off-the-field nuances of football. She is an expert at covering an array of topics - from delving into the lives of retired NFL legends like Brady and Gronkowski to the exciting developments happening on the college football field.
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Edited by:

Tripti Sarda