Bears trade Justin Fields to Steelers, clear way to take a QB such as Caleb Williams with No. 1 pick

FILE - Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Pittsburgh. The Bears traded Fields to the Steelers on Saturday, March 16, 2024, according to a person informed of the deal. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night, a person informed of the deal told The Associated Press. Chicago will receive a conditional 2025 pick, another person familiar with the details of the trade told the AP.

The move is a strong signal the Bears will draft a QB — perhaps USC’s Caleb Williams — with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams haven’t announced the trade. NFL Network first reported the deal. Fields figures to back up nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, who signed a one-year deal with the Steelers on Friday. Pittsburgh also traded Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles once it added Wilson.

Fields, drafted 11th overall in 2021 by the Bears and former general manager Ryan Pace, struggled as a rookie under former coach Matt Nagy. Though he produced big plays with his legs and arms, he did not develop as a passer the way the team hoped the past two years under coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles.

Fields has thrown for 200 yards or more just 13 times in 40 games and has just one 300-yard passing game in his career. Fields showed some improvement in the pocket this season and threw for a career-high 2,562 yards. But he was 22nd in the NFL with an 86.3 passer rating.

Chicago could have gotten a big haul by trading the No. 1 pick. But it’s not often the historically quarterback-challenged Bears have a chance to draft a prospect such as Williams. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is largely expected to be picked first overall after he threw 72 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions the past two seasons at USC after a year at Oklahoma.

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