Where Justin Fields ranks amid NFL’s quarterback shuffle

This month alone, teams have traded Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz. It seems like only a matter of time before the Browns deal Baker Mayfield and the 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo, too.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields had a 73.2 passer rating in 12 games (10 starts) as a rookie in 2021.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields throws against the Vikings on Dec. 20 at Soldier Field. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

This month alone, teams have traded Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz. It seems like only a matter of time before the Browns deal Baker Mayfield and the 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo, too.

So where does that leave the Bears’ Justin Fields on the NFL’s starting quarterback continuum? Here’s a look:


1 . Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: He’s thrown 101 touchdowns and only four interceptions over the last three years. Mahomes is coming off maybe the most disappointing game of his career; the Chiefs were up 21-3 at the two-minute warning of the first half in the AFC title game — and lost.

2 . Aaron Rodgers, Packers:  No quarterback move was more important than the reigning two-time MVP deciding to stay with the only team he’s ever known.  Rodgers has spent the last 17 years with the Packers; no other starting quarterback can claim even half as long.

3. Tom Brady, Buccaneers: At age 44, Brady led the NFL with 5,316 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns, 485 completions and 719 pass attempts. Despite a 41-day retirement followed by a change of heart, there’s no reason to think Brady will slow down in his third year with the Buccaneers.


4. Joe Burrow, Bengals: The 25-year-old was the face of the 2021 playoffs. After being sacked nine times in Round 2 and seven times in the Super Bowl loss to the Rams, though, the Bengals signed three new blockers this month for the 2020 No. 1 overall pick.

5. Josh Allen, Bills: In the playoffs, he threw five touchdowns in Round 1 and four in Round 2. Allen finished the postseason with 134 rushing yards and no interceptions.

6 Justin Herbert, Chargers: It’s a testament to the Chargers’ dysfunction — and their killer division — that Herbert has never spent a day in the NFL with a career record over .500. He’s 15-17.

Franchise QBs

7. Matthew Stafford, Rams: After averaging six wins per season over 12 seasons in Detroit, Stafford won twice as many with the Rams — and then won the Super Bowl. That prompted a four-year, $160 million extension earlier this month.

8. Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Illness and an ankle injury limited Jackson to only 12 games last season, just two years removed from being named only the second unanimous MVP in league history. He’s due for a contract extension.

9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys: He rebounded nicely from a grisly compound ankle fracture in 2020. Last year, Prescott finished third in the NFL — behind only Rodgers and Burrow — with a 104.2 passer rating.

So many questions

10. Deshaun Watson, Browns: It speaks poorly of the NFL that Watson could be paid in full for sitting out an entire season and, despite the fact he’s facing 22 active civil suits accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct, sign the second-largest contract in NFL history after being traded last week. Will the NFL suspend him? Is he still sharp? Will the generations-long stink of the Browns weigh him down? We’ll see.

Western wonders

11. Russell Wilson, Broncos: Wilson reached his ninth Pro Bowl in 10 years in 2021 — but there’s reason to wonder if he’s slipping. In each of the last three seasons, his passer rating has been worse than the year before.

12. Kyler Murray, Cardinals: It’s fair to wonder how the 5-10, 207-pounder handles the rigors of an NFL season. He went 7-1 to start the season before missing three games with an ankle injury. Upon his return, the Cardinals went 2-4 and he posted a passer rating under 86 three times.

13. Derek Carr, Raiders: Fourteen quarterbacks had a better passer rating than Carr last year — but he’s getting Davante Adams.

Remember them?

14. Ryan Tannehill, Titans: All he did last year was quarterback his team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

15. Matt Ryan, Colts: In 2020, no one tried more passes than Ryan. He’ll benefit from the Colts’ stellar run game.

16. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers: The Niners figure to trade him this offseason to clear the path for Trey Lance — but he’s recovering from shoulder surgery and landing spots are few.

17.  Kirk Cousins, Vikings: It’s been four years since Cousins had a passer rating under 103.

Are we sure they’re good?

18. Jalen Hurts, Eagles: Hurts doesn’t seem to be the long-term answer — he threw 16 touchdowns in 15 games last year. 

19. Jameis Winston, Saints: Since leading the league in passing yards (and interceptions) in 2019, Winston has started only seven games and is coming off ACL surgery.

20. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins: Teddy Bridgewater giving a no-comment when asked whether he was told he was the backup should concern Tagovailoa, who’s been inconsistent for two years. Tyreek Hill will help either passer.

Waiting for a Year 2 leap

21. Mac Jones, Patriots: He lost fewer games in his final 11 starts than he did in his first six.

22. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars: From Nov. 1 through Christmas Day, he threw one touchdown.

23. Zach Wilson, Jets: He had two three-game losing streaks and two two-game losing streaks as a rookie.

24. Justin Fields, Bears: The great crime of the Bears’ 6-11 season was the fact they never got a long look at their rookie quarterback. Five of his 10 starts came in October. He started only once in September because the Bears began the season with Andy Dalton; twice in November and twice in December because of a ribs and ankle injury; and not at all in January because of the coronavirus. Steady work with starters this offseason will give Fields a better base than he received last year. 

25. Davis Mills, Texans: Sorted by passer rating, Mills had three of the best four games of any rookie in December and two of the best seven in January.

Will eye trade targets and draft picks

26. Daniel Jones, Giants: Big Blue’s new brain trust has until May to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option.

27. Jared Goff, Lions: He was fine last year, but the Lions have the last pick in the first round — a good spot to catch any falling quarterback.

28. Mitch Trubisky, Steelers: Signing him shouldn’t preclude the Steelers from eyeing Pitt’s Kenny Pickett at No. 20 overall.

29. Carson Wentz, Commanders: His last two teams have quit on him.

30. Sam Darnold, Panthers: The Panthers, amazingly, gave up more for Darnold last year than the Colts did for Ryan this week.

31. Marcus Mariota, Falcons: He’s thrown 30 passes in two years.

32. Drew Lock, Seahawks: This can’t be the real plan. 

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