After a season of taking sacks and brutal hits, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will finally get some rest. The Bears will sit Fields in Week 18 due to a hip injury. Backup Nathan Peterman will start as the team takes on the Minnesota Vikings.
Fields will miss the contest due to a hip strain. He spent time in the blue medical tent in Week 17 due to the issue, but was able to return after it was stretched out.
Justin Fields went to the medical tent briefly during Sunday's game. He said afterward, "it was a roll-out play, and I kind of got tackled weird too where my hip got kind of twisted up, so I felt fine afterwards, just got it stretched out and worked on a little bit.”
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 4, 2023
Fields' hip was still sore Monday, so the team sent him for an MRI. Imaging revealed the strain, resulting in the team sitting Fields for the final game of the regular season.
The move ends a promising sophomore year for Fields. In 15 games, he completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Fields dazzled on the ground, running for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns. Seemingly every week, Fields pulled off a highlight-worthy run that extended a drive or saved a potential disaster.
Justin Fields on Eagles D Wow pic.twitter.com/YP4Cz4OelS
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) December 18, 2022
It wasn't a perfect year for Fields. He still made head-scratching throws at times, especially early in the season. He held the ball too long and took too many hits. Some of that can be blamed on his supporting cast. The offensive line is poor and the Bears are exceptionally thin at receiver with Darnell Mooney out. If the Bears use their salary cap space to bring in talent and Fields takes a step forward as a passer, the Bears could be a much better team in 2023.
Fields only missed one game prior to Week 18, but he's dealt with various injuries over the past couple weeks. Cameras have captured Fields being stretched out on the sideline and wincing after taking big shots. Fields' hip may require rest in Week 18, but it's also possible the Bears are sitting Fields to prevent a major injury that could linger into next season.
Bears sitting Justin Fields with No. 2 draft pick on the line
The Bears' draft pick may have played a role in sitting Fields in Week 18. At 3-13, the Bears currently hold the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. The team can move up to the No. 1 pick if they lose to Vikings and the Houston Texans defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18.
Chicago can also drop in the draft with a win in Week 18. If the Bears win and either the Denver Broncos or Arizona Cardinals lose, Chicago could drop as low as the No. 4 overall pick. Though that's not a huge fall, it could have massive implications for a number of teams.
With Fields' emergence, Chicago presumably wouldn't take a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft. If the Bears hold the No. 2 pick, it could field calls from other teams desperate to land a potential franchise quarterback. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is the presumed No. 1 overall pick, but Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis all project to be high picks. If Chicago stays in the No. 2 spot, it's well positioned to get a massive haul in a trade, or it can select star pass rusher Will Anderson. Chicago could still trade down if it gets the No. 3 or No. 4 pick, but there won't be as much competition for those spots if multiple quarterbacks are taken at the top of the draft.
In 12 career games, Peterman has three touchdowns against 13 interceptions. At 12-4, the Vikings already clinched a playoff spot and could also sit some of their starters in Week 18.