Bears QB Justin Fields: ‘I’m not worried about contracts. I’m worried about wins’

The stakes for Fields’ third season couldn’t be clearer.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields is entering his third season.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields is entering his third season.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The stakes for quarterback Justin Fields’ third season couldn’t be clearer.

The Bears must decide whether he’s their quarterback of the future — and whether they should pay him as such as soon as eight months from now. If he’s not, the Bears have the resources to draft Fields’ replacement, a perk of — if not the motivation behind — them having sent the No. 1 overall pick this year to the Panthers for, among other things, their future first-rounder.

So when Fields walked onto the turf at Halas Hall for the start of organized team activities Monday, it marked the first step in the most important season of his professional life.

‘‘I’m not worried about contracts,’’ he said Tuesday. ‘‘I’m worried about wins.’’

Wins would lead to that contract, particularly in the wake of the Bears posting the worst record in the NFL last season. Paying a quarterback never has been such a high-stakes, franchise-altering game, though. This offseason alone, the Eagles gave Jalen Hurts a five-year, $255 million extension and the Ravens reupped Lamar Jackson for $260 million over five seasons.

If the Bears keep Fields, they better be sure they’re doing the right thing. They can’t afford to be wrong.

The franchise can’t afford for Fields to miss, either, though they can pivot away from it. One look at The Ghost of Quarterbacks Past shows what happens when they do. Mitch Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, signed a contract extension with the Steelers last week, cementing him further into a backup role.

General manager Ryan Poles committed himself to one more year of Fields’ development when he traded the No. 1 pick to the Panthers rather than replace Fields with Alabama’s Bryce Young. Fields said that he never thought the Bears would draft a quarterback and that he appreciated their show of faith in him.

‘‘It’s just great having that feeling,’’ Fields said after the second of 12 volunteer OTA practices. ‘‘The coaches trust me; I trust them. Everybody in the building knows the kind of leader and person I am.’’

That stability is new. For the first time as a pro, Fields will be running the same offense he did the previous season. Dating to his last season in college, Fields had three different head coaches and offensive coordinators in three seasons — until now.

Not all continuity is good, however. The Bears have added to an offense that was among the three least talented in the NFL at the start of last season. DJ Moore came over in the deal with the Panthers, and fellow receiver Chase Claypool was acquired at midseason for a second-round pick. The Bears signed tight end Robert Tonyan in March and drafted right tackle Darnell Wright 10th overall in April.

They’ll combine to form an offense that, while not elite, should be plenty good enough for Poles to evaluate Fields. Any excuse for Fields struggling last season — or rationale, depending on how your mind works — is gone now.

‘‘I just try not to make excuses,’’ Fields said. ‘‘I feel like I said this multiple times last year: No matter what the situation is, I’m going to go out there on the field and play my hardest for my teammates, for my coaches.’’

Fields was napping when Poles texted to tell him about the Moore trade in March.

‘‘People were blowing up my phone like I just got traded,’’ Fields said. ‘‘Everybody was excited. DJ brings great talent to this team. Just his personality, it fits in well with everybody from the first day he got here. He’s a hard worker, a great player. His personality — I think just the way he acts around the guys — he just fits in really well with our team.’’

On Tuesday, Fields found Moore sprinting up the right hash after a double move and launched a beautiful pass into his arms. It’s only May, but it was a reminder of the benefits of Fields having a reliable No. 1 receiver.

‘‘I’m going to, of course, work with him more just to get those reps in right now,’’ Fields said. ‘‘So when the season rolls around, we’re on the same page and we have that connection going.’’

Moore said Fields is ‘‘on par to be great for the season.’’ He’ll be helped if Darnell Mooney returns to form after his ankle injury and if Claypool produces the way he did with the Steelers.

‘‘Chase has improved tremendously from the end of last year to now,’’ Fields said. ‘‘That’s one thing I’m truly proud to say, seeing his work ethic, his attitude change. You can just see he’s taking another step, so [I’m] definitely excited for that.’’

Head coach Matt Eberflus knew he wanted to emphasize the passing attack more during offseason workouts. On Tuesday, the Bears ran 28 plays in 20 minutes during an extended seven-on-seven drill. Fields is focusing on getting through his progressions quickly and getting his new teammates involved.

‘‘You can just see good execution, that they’re on the same page,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘You can just feel that, rep after rep. It’s the consistency of it. It’s not just one time; it’s pretty much every time.’’

At this time last year, Fields was learning the playbook and trying to fix his footwork after the snap. Now he’s trying to take the next step.

He has a long way to go. Last season, the Bears finished last in passing yards and completions and third-to-last in completion percentage. Fields’ passer rating ranked No. 25 in the NFL.

‘‘It’s truly amazing when you have that feeling going in, knowing where your guys are going to be, more comfortable with the footwork,’’ Fields said. ‘‘Having that second-year experience from last year and stuff like that with the same offense is great.’’

Here, on a back field in the spring, is where the Bears are trying to fix their passing game.

And it’s where Fields is lining up for what might be a meaningful and profitable season — whether he wants to admit it or not.

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