The NY Jets enter the 2023 NFL offseason in a unique position. Like many teams, they are in search of a franchise quarterback who can bring stability and success to the organization. Unlike most other clubs, they boast a supporting cast that is championship ready.
The consensus opinion is that the Jets are a starting-caliber QB away from cracking the postseason field, and, perhaps, a top-10 signal-caller away from making a legitimate run at a Super Bowl.
Much has been made of New York's pursuit of free agent Pro Bowler Derek Carr and former MVP Aaron Rodgers. Either of these options would be infinitely better than the carousel of mediocrity that took the field in 2022. However, Carr (31 years old), and Rodgers (39) are both veterans who have likely seen their most productive seasons pass.
The Jet Press recently covered an under-the-radar option to trade for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. This article details PFF's mock trade in which the Jets acquire Fields for their first and second-round picks in 2023 and 2024, as well as Elijah Moore.
Let's start the conversation by establishing what you are undoubtedly already thinking: This price point is too high. Way too high.
With that baseline set, one has to wonder if, perhaps, a more reasonable trade between New York and Chicago could take place. If there is room for negotiation, the Jets would be wise to pursue a deal.
Fields is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the modern NFL. Of course, his electric abilities begin with his unique ability to rush the football.
Despite missing two games last season, 1,143 rushing yards placed him just a hair behind Lamar Jackson's NFL single-season record of 1,205 in 2019. As a reminder, Jackson became just the second unanimous MVP in NFL history that historic season.
We've seen this dual-threat skillset bring stability to the Ravens' franchise during Jackson's entire tenure. We're also witnessed a similar playing style lead a talented Eagles roster within a hair of a Super Bowl title under Jalen Hurts' leadership.
While Fields' is an all-world athlete, much has been made of his limitations as a thrower. This, of course, is the most critical aspect of any quarterback's job. His low counting stats in yardage (2,242 passing yards in 2022), completion percentage (60.4%), touchdowns (17), and QBR (54.0), are all below average for an NFL starter.
Some of this is the result of his rushing vulturing production from his passing totals. However, it's also a cause for concern. As dynamic as Fields has been in his young career, many still question whether he can become a Jackson or Hurts-caliber passer.
This question is the very reason Chicago would even consider parting with their playmaker to select another QB with their 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick.
While this is a point of concern for many Jets fans (and rightfully so), it is important to consider the noticeable void in playmaking talent alongside Fields during his NFL career.
Over the last two seasons, the Bears' top pass-catchers include lackluster names such as Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Dante Pettis, and Chase Claypool. This unit could challenge any franchise for the most pedestrian in the league.
Aside from running back David Montgomery, Chicago has been a wasteland of skill position players during Fields' pro career. The injection of talents like Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and Elijah Moore would certainly make an immediate difference.
This leads us to the big question...
The Price Tag
Is there a price point that makes sense for both the Jets and Bears? I am hopeful there is.
Much has been made of the Bears' potentially considering trading Fields to draft a quarterback with their No. 1 overall draft pick. Alabama QB Bryce Young seems the be the consensus target in most mock deals.
I would sacrifice a first and second-round pick for the stability Fields would bring. I'd add a third to that package as a sweetener if it got the deal done.
Hot take. I would even support a first-round pick and two second-rounders being included in a deal for Fields. His playmaking abilities would instantly place the Jets as legitimate contenders in the AFC East.
In fact, his talent would be such a massive upgrade over the Zach Wilson/Joe Flacco starts last season, that it could lead to a considerable increase in wins.
Additionally, Fields' age profile (just 23 years old) would likely give the Jets a franchise signal-caller that could grow with their young core over the next decade.
His rookie contract, which runs for the next two seasons, would also give New York the financial flexibility to further build around their young core.
The Jets should be thrilled to add either Rodgers or Carr to their loaded roster this offseason. However, the difference in age and playmaking skills also make Fields a worthy target.
Don't sleep on the potential fireworks that would come through a union between the Jets and Justin Fields.