Bears’ Justin Fields was worried about wins, not his contract

Courtney CroninESPN staff writerMay 23, 2023, 07:26 PM ET4 minutes to read

LAKE FOREST, Illinois — If all goes well for Justin Fields during his third season in the NFL, the Chicago Bears quarterback could join the ranks of Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson with a lucrative contract extension next season.

All rookies are eligible for extension after their third season, while teams can exercise fifth-year options over first-round draft picks (Fields was selected 11th overall by Chicago in 2021) prior to a player’s fourth season.

Fields’ future hinges on how successful he is this fall. This is not lost on the 24-year-old quarterback, who says his future earnings are currently the furthest thing from his mind.

“I’m not worried about contracts,” Fields said, “I’m worried about earnings.” “I was less interested.”

Coming off a 3-14 season in which the Bears had the NFL’s worst passing offense at 130.5 yards per game, Chicago is prioritizing Fields’ growth as a passer. Fields completed 60.4% of his passes for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 15 games in 2022.

This focus is reflected in the additions the Bears have made to their crop of pass catchers this offseason, including wide receivers DJ Moore and rookie Tyler Scott along with tight end Robert Tunian.

After finishing the 2022 season 64 yards short of breaking Jackson’s single-season running back record, Fields expressed disappointment at not being able to reach a historic milestone, but said he’d rather one day set a record.

Whether it’s statistical milestones or a potential stretch months from now, Fields’ approach to the upcoming season remains the same.

“Every year is a great year,” Fields said. “I don’t have anything to expand on that. For me, every year is a big year and I’m excited to show it.”

After the Bears’ second OTA practice Tuesday, the quarterback tackled several moves the Chicago front office has made since March. Fields was pleased with the addition of Moore, who was traded to Chicago by the Carolinas in a group of draft picks in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick.

“DJ brings an amazing talent to this team – just his personality, he fits really well with everyone from the first day he got here,” Fields said. “He’s a hard worker, a great player. His personality, I think the way he acts with the players, fits in really well with our team. Definitely excited about that.”

Before the Bears pulled out of the deal that netted the Panthers top draft pick to pick quarterback Bryce Young, speculation centered on whether Chicago would keep the top pick and pull out the quarterback. Fields was not drafted by Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who spent the off-season bolstering his belief in Fields with a host of offensive additions.

While the Poles said the Bears did their due diligence on all four senior QB members — Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis — Fields said the idea of ​​Chicago drafting the No. 1 quarterback overall never crossed his mind.

He said, “No, not really.” Instead, the investment the Bears’ future has shown in the Fields speaks volumes for the quarterback.

“It’s great for me to have this confidence from the coaching staff,” Fields said. “You guys don’t see it, but we communicate here all the time, we trust each other completely. Just having them behind me, they know what kind of leader I am for my teammates, and they know how great I want to be, the work I get done. I definitely put them behind my back.”

During the second OTA, Fields showed his deep ball contact with Moore at 11-on-11. And according to Moore, their chemistry is still “a work in progress,” who doesn’t think it will take long for the two to get on the same page.

“How long? I want to say maybe to the end of the OTAs and through the mini-camp and then start over, you know you had that break, and then you have to start over,” Moore said. “Going into training camp, maybe about two to three days to get back on track as we finished in the OTAs.”

Fields expressed a level of comfort during the Bears’ voluntary off-season program that he said he didn’t feel in 2022 when he was assigned to learn an entirely new offense.

“It’s really amazing when you have that feeling, knowing where your guys are going to be, more comfortable with the footwork elements,” Fields said.

This is something offensive coordinator QB Luke Getsy has noticed as well, recently claiming that Fields is “light years ahead of where he was” at this point last year.

Those witnessing Fields’ leadership on offense for the first time—even players on defense—were impressed by the quarterback’s leadership on and off the field.

“A great athlete,” said linebacker Tremaine Edmonds. “Obviously he’s a lot bigger than I thought he was. Obviously, I played against him last year, but seeing him every day, a hard worker, a leader. You can see he makes the guys around him better. He’s coming from the front. He’s his. From Obviously the work speaks for itself. Just seeing him get out there every day and grow and develop and spread the ball everywhere, just the thought of him. I see that up close and I’m excited. They’ve got a lot of good things on the offensive side. With his leadership and… What’s clear is his gamemaking abilities, that’s something you should definitely be excited about.”

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