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Bears GM Ryan Poles: Trading Justin Fields ‘One of the Harder Things’ I’ve Done

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles broke down the emotions of trading now Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Justin Fields.



Steelers Justin Fields
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 9, 2021. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired Justin Fields for little, just a sixth-round pick that could conditionally turn into a fourth-round pick from the Chicago Bears. For the first time since the trade, Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke on the trade, specifically how hard it was for him to move Fields.

“You know, trading Justin, it’s one of the harder things I’ve had to do,” Poles said. “I always touch on the empathy part, like, having that conversation with my own son was hard. His jersey is up in his room. So, it kind of puts into perspective on how difficult those moves are. But I really felt like that was best for our organization and best for Justin”

Poles went over to Bears head coach Matt Eberflus’ house to let Justin Fields know that he was being traded to the Steelers. And Mike Tomlin and the Steelers appear excited by Fields and what he can do for the team.

“I think that’s to be determined and I think that’s one of the exciting components of team development, the division of labor roles and so forth, particularly when you got new and exciting talent makes the process an exciting one and so I’m excited about getting to know him and his skillset and what he can do,” Tomlin said of Fields.

Fields took a small step forward in 2023, his third year as Chicago’s starting quarterback. The 24-year-old Ohio State alum threw 370 times, completing 227 for 2,562 yards and 16 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions and maintained an 86.3 passer rating and a 5.29 adjusted net yards per attempt.

Last season, he was 192 of 318 for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, an 85.2 quarterback rating, and 4.63 adjusted net yards per attempt.

Fields is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Steelers must decide this offseason if they want to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. That would be a guaranteed $25 million contract for 2025. The Steelers could negotiate a traditional contract extension.

“Rest assured, when it’s time to compete, Justin will given an opportunity to compete and we’ll allow those guys to sort themselves out. But I thought it was appropriate to describe it in a way for when we get started. Russell’s in pole position, and I think his body of work justifies that. And just from my conversations with Justin, he is excited about working alongside Russell and learning some of those veteran tricks of the trade from behind a guy who has been around for over a decade.”
The Steelers will now work with help on surrounding Wilson and Fields. They need a few offensive reinforcements, including wide receiver, center, and offensive tackle.