Bears Projected to Trade Justin Fields for $10.4 Million Playmaker

Justin Fields for Kyle Pitts and a draft pick? That’s one bold possibility that ESPN is putting forth as the Chicago Bears explore their options for the 2024 season.

In ESPN’s preview guide for the 2024 offseason, Aaron Schatz made “big predictions” for each of the 32 teams and projected the Atlanta Falcons to trade to acquire Fields from the Bears. He also suggested that, in return, Chicago could receive Pitts — the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft — as part of their trade compensation.

“The Falcons will use Pitts as part of a package to pry quarterback Justin Fields away from the Bears before Chicago uses the No. 1 overall pick on a new starting quarterback,” Schatz wrote in the Falcons’ section.

Belief around the league that the Bears will use the No. 1 overall pick on a new quarterback — likely USC’s Caleb Williams — has continued to build as the NFL Scouting Combine draws nearer. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned in his Senior Bowl notes that “most people I talked to in Mobile expect” the Bears to keep the No. 1 pick.

If the Bears decide to take a quarterback with the pick, though, they will need to figure out what to do with Fields — or, more specifically, which team is willing to make the biggest trade offer for the former Ohio State star. The Falcons could certainly make a compelling case for themselves if they offer up Pitts, but would they do that?

Falcons Face 5th-Year Option Decision on Kyle Pitts

The Falcons might not be keen on the idea of trading one of their top offensive players to acquire a new quarterback, but it is possible they would consider moving Pitts if they are not sold on his long-term future and do not intend to pick up his fifth-year option.

Pitts racked up 1,026 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, but he has mostly been a disappointment for the Falcons ever since then. While there are valid criticisms for how Atlanta’s offensive staff has been using him, he has not done enough on his end to live up to the expectations that come with being a top-5 draft pick.

With that in mind, the Falcons must figure out by May 2 whether they want to pick up his fifth-year option for the 2025 season, which Over the Cap projects to be worth about $10.56 million. They are already on the hook for a similar cap charge — about $10.47 million — in 2024 during the final year of his rookie contract, but they could nearly halve that number to roughly $5.3 million if they traded him before June 1.

There is also a debate about whether Pitts should be classified as a tight end or wide receiver in terms of his fifth-year option. The 23-year-old has lined up in the slot on 49.6% of his snaps and spent another 30% of his snaps out wide, according to Pro Football Focus. If the NFL agrees to let him classify as a receiver, Atlanta would have to prepare to pay him even more money than projected during his 2025 option year.

Bears Could Use Kyle Pitts as Big-Bodied Possession WR

A hypothetical where the Bears trade Justin Fields for a tight end might not seem all that enticing at first glance, but Pitts is more exceptional than the average tight end.

As mentioned, the 6-foot-6, 247-pound Pitts spends more time playing like a big-bodied wide receiver than a traditional in-line tight end. The Bears could greatly benefit from adding a pass-catcher with his skill set, especially after Chase Claypool flamed out. They could also use the tight end depth with Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis on their way to free agency when the new league year begins on March 13.

The Bears also have their rookie quarterback to think about in this scenario. DJ Moore is a terrific No. 1 option to have and Cole Kmet has established himself as a high-quality, reliable starting tight end over the past two seasons, but Pitts would add another dynamic wrinkle to Shane Waldron’s reconstructed Bears offense in 2024, especially if the Bears add more receiving talent through free agency or the draft.

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