The Cleveland Browns are going to have to move on from their top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which is a little surprising. We knew that with the trade of for the #12 pick that the Browns would have to move on from the first-round pick they got from the Buffalo Bills last year, but they didn’t need to trade out of the first round to get a player that will help their team in the future.
The former Georgia quarterback, who is expected to be one of the top picks in next year’s NFL Draft, is choosing to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility in favor of signing with the Chicago Bears.When you select a quarterback in the first round, as was the case with the Chicago Bears’ selection of Justin Fields last April, you are essentially putting the future of the team in the hands of that player.
In a team sport, no position is as important as quarterback, so a lot depends on the right person. Sometimes it is not enough to study characteristic films or have MRIs of knees, shoulders and elbows.
Sometimes you just need the assurance that the guy you’re investing in has a good head on his shoulders. Fields just made it clear that the Bears can get comfortable with their new leader on the field.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields drops the ball against Alabama on the 11th play of the game. in January 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. | David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The huge financial risk associated with selecting quarterbacks in the first round no longer exists. After the Rams paid Sam Bradford $78 million over six years in 2010, the NFL and the players’ union agreed to a change whereby players in rookie contracts get narrow salary ranges based on their draft position.
Trevor Lawrence, the first pick in April of this year, got an acceptable $36.8 million over four years. If he turns out to be a mistake, the team is unlikely to be imprisoned pending the dissolution of his contract.
Deciding on a quarterback only becomes difficult for general managers when they have to make a decision on a fifth-year option, which is often followed by negotiations on the next contract. The Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) and Houston Texans (Deshaun Watson) waived their five-year options and signed long-term contracts instead.
The Bears chose none of the above and pondered what to do with the only QB selected for Mahomes and Watson in 2017. After three seasons of great potential but too many failures, the Bears did not take up the option for Mitch Trubisky’s fifth year. After his contract expired last fall, he signed in free agency with the Buffalo Bills to replace Josh Allen.
Instead, the Bears selected Fields, a two-year fixture at Ohio State, with the 11th pick in the draft.
Fields and the Bears have agreed on a four-year contract worth $18,871,957. According to Spotrac.com, the deal includes a signing bonus of $11,085,060 and is fully insured. It would have been perfectly understandable if Fields had used some of his bonus money to buy some nice things for himself, but the 22-year-old from Georgia shows impressive maturity in his money management.
Fields’ salary of $660,000 as a starter will accrue over 36 weeks. This formula is a change from the previous collective agreement, which provided for 17 weekly payments during the regular season. According to Front Office Sports, the reason is that young players can plan their money better if it is paid in small installments over a long period of time.
Fields is way ahead of many of his peers when it comes to money management.
For now, my intention is to keep my hands off the contract money and live solely off marketing, Fields said.
Fields has already made a number of deals without making a single pass as a professional. He has contracts with Bose, Chipotle, Nutrabolt’s C4 Energy and Wonderful Pistachios, and playing in Chicago will give him even more opportunities to showcase his products between pitches.
Had he come forward a few years later, Fields could have made a lot of money while still a student. The NCAA has granted naming, trademark and likeness (NIL) rights, allowing athletes to take advantage of sponsorship deals or become product evangelists on social media.
At the time of the 2020 NFL Draft, according to one estimate, LSU’s Joe Barrow, the No. 1 pick, was underpaid $700,000 for his final year at LSU because the NCAA did not allow NIL trades.
University stars are now taking advantage of this, but Fields urges caution.
They are eager to get their hands on the money, but I think they can definitely be exploited by different brands, he said. It is important that they know their value.
And then they need to make sure they know where every penny is going.
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COMPARED TO: Justin Fields’ claptrap shocks Chicago Bears’ D: I didn’t really have a quarterback that appealed to me
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