Ahead of a critical season, Justin Fields aims to lift Bears to 'new heights'


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — Bears quarterback Justin Fields unleashed the football deep in the air Tuesday afternoon, and new receiver DJ Moore soon tracked it down by extending his body away from the defender to haul in a catch. There was an eruption from the sideline on a back field at Halas Hall.

This was only a May practice as part of organized team activities in the offseason program, but the play provided a glimpse of the renewed hope for the 24-year-old Fields and the Bears.

After going an NFL-worst 3-14 in 2022, the Bears set about improving their roster around Fields. That included adding the dynamic Moore in the trade of the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers and drafting offensive tackle Darnell Wright at No. 10 overall. The Bears have invested in and around Fields with the belief that he'll prove himself as a franchise quarterback.

“I’m just excited to be able to lead this team and to be able to reach new heights,” Fields said.

Back on March 10, Fields awoke from an afternoon nap to find his phone was blowing up with missed phone calls and text messages. One of those calls was from Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who was ready to inform him of the blockbuster trade that brought Moore to Chicago.

It was a significant step for the Bears early in a pivotal offseason and confirmation that they would build around Fields rather than select his replacement at the top of the NFL Draft. The reason the Bears made that decision was because Poles' faith in Fields was affirmed during the challenging 2022 season.

Fields now enters his third NFL season with a stronger supporting cast on offense and stability in the Bears’ coaching staff and scheme. With that as context, it's his responsibility to take advantage of the situation, elevate the Bears around him and secure his long-term future in Chicago.

Fields will be eligible for a contract extension with the Bears after this season, and it could be a megadeal if he earns it with his play in 2023. As a reference point, the Eagles locked in quarterback Jalen Hurts on a five-year, $255-million deal in April after he led Philadelphia to the Super Bowl.

“I’m not worried about contracts,” Fields said Tuesday. “I’m worried about wins.”

As the Bears began OTAs on Monday at Halas Hall, it marked the first time for Fields to lead the bolstered offense. Beyond Moore and Wright, the Bears signed right guard Nate Davis and tight end Robert Tonyan in free agency and drafted running back Roschon Johnson and receiver Tyler Scott. The Bears are also counting on a bounce-back from receiver Chase Claypool, who struggled in seven games with Chicago last season.

“He’s on par to be great this season,” Moore said of Fields.

The Bears are looking to Fields to set the tone for the team.

"Hard worker, leader,” new linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “You can see that he makes guys around him better. He leads from the front. His work obviously speaks for itself.

“With the way the he leads and obviously his playmaking ability, it's something to be excited about."

Poles’ decision to build around Fields and trade the No. 1 pick will ultimately define his tenure as Bears general manager – whether it's filled with great reward or marred by disappointment. Hope in the Bears’ future stems from the belief that Poles has placed in Fields.

Now, the Bears are waiting to see where Fields can lead them.

“We trust each other fully,” Fields said. “Just having them behind me, they know the kind of leader I am to my teammates, they know how great I want to be, the work I put in. It’s just great to have them behind my back.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Daniel Bartel/USA Today Sports