The Bears are predicted to pick up Justin Fields’ fifth-year option, according to SI

Justin Fields says every year is important to him, and he’s more focused on winning than any potential contract extension. However, it’s undeniable that the 2023 season will be a big one as the Bears weigh whether Fields will be their quarterback for another decade, or just another year or two. That’s because next May the Bears will face another real crossroads with Fields, when they have to decide whether or not to accept his fifth-year option.

All NFL rookies who are drafted are signed to four-year contracts, but teams have the option of adding an extra year for their first-round picks. The deadline for making that decision is the offseason before the player’s fourth year. The Bears drafted Fields in 2021, so they will have to decide whether or not to take him next spring. If they choose not to retake him, he will become a free agent.

In a recent roundup of all the first-round picks in the 2021 draft, Sports Illustrated predicted that the Bears will go with the Fields option.

“There’s a world where Fields fails this year, and then the Bears have a tough decision on their hands,” Matt Verderame wrote. “However, considering all the progress Fields has made in his second season, the most likely scenario is that general manager Ryan Poles has an easy decision against him.”

If the Bears decline Fields’ fifth-year option, it doesn’t rule out a contract extension after the fourth year. That was what happened with the Giants and Daniel Jones. Of course, the Bears could decide to offer Fields a new contract early and skip the option altogether.

The price of quarterbacks goes up every year. Patrick Mahomes broke the bank in 2020 with a 10-year contract worth up to $503 million dollars. Two years later, the Browns gave Deshaun Watson a five-year contract worth $230 million, fully guaranteed. This year, Jalen Hurts reset the average annual value market with a contract worth $51 million per year. Lamar Jackson reset the market again soon after with a deal worth $52 million per year.

It’s not just monster deals for elite playmakers. Jones got a four-year, $160 million contract from the Giants this offseason with $92 million guaranteed, after his fifth-year option was declined. That puts it at $40 million in average annual value. Jones is far from the worst quarterback in the league, but he’s certainly not on the same level as Mahomes, Hurts or Jackson.

With so much money invested in QB, the Bears need to know if Fields is the one ASAP. They’ve taken steps to put him in a position of success by injecting talent into his wide receiver room and reworking the offensive line. The question now is how far Fields can go with more talent around him.

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