Ranking all 32 NFL starting QBs

Where does Bears quarterback Justin Fields fit in?

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts talk after a game in December.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts talk after a game in December.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

By the end of this season, the Bears need to be able to answer one yes-or-no question about quarterback Justin Fields: Is he the guy?

Even if he is — and the Bears extend his contract accordingly next offseason — Fields has a long way to go to be considered among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. With training camp launching next month, here’s how Fields measures up to the league’s other 31 starters:

The greatest

1. Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes

No one who has thrown 200 or more career passes in the history of the NFL has a higher passer rating, averages more yards per game or boasts a better touchdown percentage. He has won as many MVPs as Joe Montana and as many Super Bowl MVPs as Eli Manning, and he’s only 27.

Franchise QBs

2. Bengals’ Joe Burrow

Lamar Jackson got $185 million guaranteed and Jalen Hurts $179 million this offseason, so Burrow’s next deal will come in north of $200 million sometime between now and Week 1.

3. Bills’ Josh Allen

He finished second in MVP voting in 2020 and was third last year.

4. Eagles’ Jalen Hurts

Hurts picked the perfect time to play the best game of his life — in the Super Bowl — and cashed in with a giant contract.

5. Chargers’ Justin Herbert

Counting the Bolts’ come-from-ahead playoff loss to the Jaguars last year, Herbert is 25-25 in his NFL career. He’s elite, but shouldn’t he win more?

6. Ravens’ Lamar Jackson

By contrast, Jackson has won 45 of his 61 career games.

7. Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence

We’re probably a year early in putting him this high, but there isn’t a single quarterback in the categories below whom we’d rather build around.

Soooooo many questions

8. Jets’ Aaron Rodgers

The prediction here is that a change of scenery prompts Rodgers to focus in a way he didn’t last year. That’s not good enough to win another MVP, but he’ll lead the Jets to the playoffs.

9. Cowboys’ Dak Prescott

He and Davis Mills tied for the most interceptions in the NFL last year with 15.

10. Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa

His future is both enticing and terrifying. He had two scary concussions last year and might be one more away from having to retire.

Vastly overpaid

11. Giants’ Daniel Jones

Through his first three seasons, he ranked 43rd in passer rating. Last year, he was 16th. That was enough for the Giants to give him $82 million guaranteed — but we’re not convinced.

12. Browns’ Deshaun Watson

After returning from his suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Watson stunk in six starts. The Browns won’t get their $230 million worth.

13. Cardinals’ Kyler Murray

The Cardinals gave him $159.8 million guaranteed last year. He tore his ACL and is expected to miss the first half of this season.

30-and-older

14. Vikings’ Kirk Cousins

He has been to the Pro Bowl in three of the last four years.

15. Rams’ Matthew Stafford

A season removed from winning the Super Bowl, he finds himself on a rebuilding team.

16. Seahawks’ Geno Smith

A surprising star turn last year earned the journeyman $40 million in guaranteed money.

17. Broncos’ Russell Wilson

He has the worst contract in the sport: $245 million over five years.

18. Saints’ Derek Carr

The ultimate league-average quarterback, Carr — who has played in one career playoff game — somehow got $100 million guaranteed this offseason.

A lot to prove

19. Lions’ Jared Goff

Since trading for Goff in 2021, the Lions have had nine draft picks in the top 46 — and didn’t take a quarterback once. They finally took one in Round 3 this year: injured 25-year-old Tennessee passer Hendon Hooker.

20. Bears’ Justin Fields

Bears fans fooled by the practice-field false positives of the Mitch Trubisky era would be wise to remind themselves not to live and die with Fields’ performance during training camp. Fields, though, needs to show steady improvement in the Bears’ passing game, even if it’s against his teammates. He’s out of excuses now that the Bears have added two new starting linemen plus DJ Moore, Chase Claypool and Robert Tonyan to the pass-catching mix. It’s not hyperbole to say that Fields giving the Bears a clear view of his future — either positive or negative — would be the biggest development to strike the franchise since the Khalil Mack trade.

21. Steelers’ Kenny Pickett

He displaced Trubisky in early October and steadily improved.

22. Patriots’ Mac Jones

Jones went 9-4 in his first 13 career starts and 7-11 since.

Benched by midseason?

23. Titans’ Ryan Tannehill

The Titans grabbed Kentucky’s Will Levis in Round 2 when he unexpectedly slid from the top of the draft.

24. Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo

It’s unclear if Jimmy G has passed a physical yet after hurting his foot with the 49ers. Aidan O’Connell, another suburban Chicago native, was drafted in Round 4 to back him up.

25. Buccaneers’ Baker Mayfield

He’s on his fourth team in three years. The Bucs have Kyle Trask, their 2021 second-round pick, in the wings.

Honestly, who knows?

26. 49ers’ Brock Purdy

“Mr. Irrelevant” won all five regular-season starts and two in the playoffs before suffering an ugly elbow injury in the NFC title game that could keep him from starting this year’s opener. He was awesome last season, but the 49ers have too amazing of a supporting cast to stick with him if he’s anything but this year.

27. Packers’ Jordan Love

The Packers follow Brett Favre and Rodgers with a quarterback who has started one game since being drafted three years ago. Cue the Jerry Seinfeld “Good luck with allllll that” GIF.

Rookies and honorary members

28. Panthers’ Bryce Young

The Panthers traded a haul to the Bears to pick the top quarterback in this year’s draft. Now they have to build an offense that accounts for his small 5-10, 204-pound frame.

29. Texans’ C.J. Stroud

He can fight Fields for the title of the best NFL quarterback from Ohio State. Only two others have been drafted in Round 1 — Art Schlichter, who was suspended for gambling after his rookie season, and the late Dwayne Haskins, whom Washington cut in the middle of his second season.

30. Colts’ Anthony Richardson

The riskiest of the first-round quarterbacks, Richardson wasn’t a particularly good college player. His scrambling skills will keep him afloat while he figures out the NFL passing game.

31. Falcons’ Desmond Ridder

He started the final four games of last season and recorded neither a touchdown nor an interception until throwing for two scores in Week 18.

32. Commanders’ Sam Howell

He threw passes in one game last season, a Week 18 start against the Cowboys that produced a 26-6 win.

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