The Chicago Bears earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after having the worst record in the league in 2022. The Bears then decided to trade picks with the Carolina Panthers, who originally had the No. 9 selection. That's what did happen, but what almost happened was a bit more involved.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke to Peter King about another option he was considering. Poles was thinking about trading the No. 1 spot with the Houston Texans for their No. 2 pick. Once the Bears had the second pick, they would trade with the Panthers for the No. 9 overall pick, shifting three teams' selections in the event.
While that scenario was intriguing, Poles said it came down to timing, and right after the NFL Scouting Combine when he needed to make the trade with the Panthers.
"I thought there was an opportunity to do something historically pretty cool with a trade from one to two and two to nine," Poles said (via NBC Sports). "That had potential to add more draft capital this year, and then the possibility that you're sitting on three ones in the following year. That had my attention. But my gut told me to trigger on it now."
Other teams saw the quarterbacks at their best and got a good feeling from many of the future draft picks. Poles wanted to work out a trade while the draftees were all in good standing, rather than down the road when teams are questioning the quarterbacks.
"At the combine, I thought those quarterbacks did an outstanding job in their interview process," Poles said. "A lot of teams felt really good about some of those guys, but as you get further away from the combine, maybe there's a bad pro day or something that turns teams off."
Poles said working with Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer included thoughtful negotiations. Once the Panthers said they would include wide receiver D.J. Moore along with the No. 9 and No. 61 overall picks, as well as a give them a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick, he did not want to wait for anyone to change their mind.
"Scott and I have a pretty good relationship, being around each other on the road," Poles said. "I think that played a big part of it. And trust. He wanted to get it done. He was clear with his intentions."
The Panthers said they would possibly trade to the No. 2 spot, swapping with the Texans, so things could be moving once again.