The Chicago Bears potentially made a move in the 2021 NFL draft that could set them up for years to come. After trading up to the 11th pick from the 20th, the Bears selected former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Given the hype surrounding Fields, the move might give the Bears the franchise quarterback they have wanted for decades. It could also equal a bright future for Chicago. However, although he is just now joining the team, Fields may already be on his way out of town.
OK, well, only kind of.
The Chicago Bears selected former Ohio State QB Justin Fields
The Bears aggressively went after Fields in the draft due to his stellar play in college for the Ohio State Buckeyes. After spending one year at Georgia, Fields moved to Ohio State in 2019 and had an excellent first season there. He threw for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns, and three interceptions. He also ran for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Fields’ play led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season and a trip to the College Football Playoff. Ohio State, though, ultimately lost to Clemson in the CFP semifinal.
Fields then returned in 2020 and, despite only playing in eight games due to a coronavirus-shortened season, still played at a high level. He threw for 2,100 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions. The Buckeyes also went to the CFP again, where they got revenge and defeated Clemson in the semifinal before losing to Alabama in the national championship game. Fields had a big game in that CFP semifinal, too, as he threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns.
That performance — and many others — led to the Bears trading up from No. 20 to No. 11 to select Fields in the 2021 NFL draft. He is now Chicago’s future at the quarterback position.
However, could he and his Bears teammates already be headed out of town?
The Bears could be headed out of town…kind of
Fields is the future in Chicago, but could he also be the future in Arlington Heights?
According to ProFootballTalk, the Bears talked to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot about potentially making changes to Soldier Field. The stadium is currently the smallest in the NFL.
So, could Fields and his Bears teammates move from Soldier Field, or even Chicago altogether?
Well, it won’t happen in the near future. The team’s lease to play at its current stadium lasts through 2033, so Fields and his teammates may not even still be on the team by then (although Bears fans are probably hopeful he is). The NFL most likely won’t allow the Bears to move from the city altogether, either, as Chicago is a pretty large market. Lightfoot also said she is confident the Bears won’t ultimately move.
However, there’s some speculation as to whether the Bears could move to a Chicago suburb. Mayor of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Tom Hayes, thinks the town’s Arlington Park race track could be perfect for the Bears, as it’s for sale and will probably be demolished and redeveloped by the new owner. The location is about 30 miles from Soldier Field.
“I think the Bears are seriously considering it because it’s such a unique piece of property,” Hayes said, per ProFootballTalk. “It has so much going for it in terms of its location in the northwest suburbs where a lot of their audience is.”
It’s hard to imagine the Bears moving from Soldier Field, where the team has played since 1971. But if Fields becomes their franchise QB, there appears to be a chance he could maybe move from Chicago to Arlington Heights at some point during his Bears tenure.
Justin Fields has a bright future with the Bears
No matter where Fields and the Bears play, the QB has a bright future on the team. Chicago has a solid defense led by guys like Khalil Mack, but Fields also has a stellar receiver to throw to in Allen Robinson II, who caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards in 2020.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy was also the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator when they traded to select Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft while still having Alex Smith at QB. So, he can use some of that experience to determine how to use Fields and Andy Dalton, who signed with the Bears this offseason.
“How great is that for a young rookie to come on in and learn from a guy like [Dalton] and Nick Foles,” Nagy said, per NFL.com.
It’ll be fun to see what Fields can do for the Bears whenever he gets his opportunity in the coming seasons. It’ll also be interesting to see if he plays at Soldier Field throughout his entire tenure. The future for Chicago is unknown, but it also appears to be pretty bright.