NFC Notes: Matt LaFleur, Justin Fields, Kevin O’Connell, Bears, Packers, Vikings


The Bears have a series of huge decisions coming this offseason. Chicago has to decide whether to take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick they got from last year’s trade with the Panthers, or whether to stick with former first-round QB Justin Fields.

A front office source acknowledged Fields has not made things any easier with his improvement, telling ESPN’s Courtney Cronin and Jeremy Fowler Fields’ “special” playmaking has “absolutely” made things harder on Chicago. 

But while Fields has improved and clearly has a lot of potential, his numbers are still underwhelming relative to the overall league landscape at the position. 

“I just think we know what he is at this point — a great athlete and playmaker who misses some throws he shouldn’t or doesn’t always take the throws available to him,” one NFC executive told ESPN. “You can win some games with him, and he’s got some elements to his game that are really impressive, but it’s not sustainable long-term from a pocket-passing standpoint, in my opinion.”

What makes things complicated is even if the Bears shared that opinion — and it’s not clear they do — Fields has won over the locker room and a significant portion of the fanbase. After this past Sunday’s win over the Falcons, there were chants of “We want Fields” from the fans. 

“No one in here thinks Justin’s not a top quarterback,” one veteran player told ESPN. “No one would tell you that. Everyone believes he’s a top-10 quarterback in the league.”

“[He] has had the city on his shoulders since he came in [and has been a] true professional,” Bears CB Jaylon Johnson added. “…I can’t see another quarterback coming in here and taking anything over.”

Bears GM Ryan Poles and HC Matt Eberflus run a real risk of alienating players if they don’t manage this decision correctly, as it’s clear the locker room still has some scars from how other notable veterans like LB Roquan Smith and DE Robert Quinn have been traded away 

“It’s like, if you get rid of him, what are we doing?” a Bears veteran said. “It’s like last year when they got rid of Roquan and Rob. That was our captain. We knew we were going down.”

“If we do that next year, it’s like where are we going?” a Bears starter said of drafting a QB at No. 1. “So we’ve got to go through this for another year until he [a rookie quarterback] is able to compete for a Super Bowl?”

  • Both Poles and Eberflus have faced speculation about their job security this year, with the arrival of new team president Kevin Warren a complicating factor as he’s expected to have a voice in football decisions going forward.
  • Cronin and Fowler write Poles’ job appears to be pretty safe, per sources, with a little less certainty about Eberflus although the 7-5 record over the past 12 weeks helps. 
  • They note Warren was exuberant after the win against the Falcons and was heard declaring, “2024 is going to be special.”
  • There still seems to be support for Fields in the building, with a coaching source telling Cronin and Fowler: “This is a high-ceiling player — there’s much more he can tap into.”
  • Cronin and Fowler asked around the league, and the general thought was that if the Bears traded the No. 1 pick they could get more than they got from the Panthers last year. Execs gauged the value of the pick as two future first-rounders on top of a top-five pick this year, plus a Day 2 pick and/or a premium veteran player on a decent contract.
  • The consensus in an informal poll of league evaluators was that the Bears could get a second or third-round pick for Fields if they put him on the block, per Cronin and Fowler.
  • The Bears brought in LS Matt Overton for a tryout, via Aaron Wilson. 


The Packers must defeat the Bears in Week 18 to gain a berth in the playoffs. HC Matt LaFleur recalled being in a similar situation last year when they also needed a win over Chicago in Week 18 to reach the postseason but lost. 

“We were in a similar situation a year ago and couldn’t get it done,” LaFleur said, via PackersWire. “So, we know it’s going to be a tremendous challenge. I think Chicago is as improved as any team, when you look at them from Week 1 to where they are now. They’ve done a really, really good the last few weeks.”


  • Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell says the team is not going to base their opinion of QB Jaren Hall on what happened against the Packers: “What we’ve got to do … [is] make sure he knows this is not by any means a period on the end of what we think of Jaren Hall.” (Kevin Seifert)
  • The Vikings officially signed LB Abraham Beauplan to the practice squad on Tuesday.

Looking for the latest NFL Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow NFL Trade Rumors on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NFL News and Rumors for all 32 teams!

Leave a Reply