Since the end of the regular season, the Chicago Bears have controlled the 2023 NFL Draft. On Friday, Bears general manager Ryan Poles made a career-defining trade.
Sources tell CBS Sports that in a blockbuster move, the Bears are flipping the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, who were previously selecting at No. 9.
The Bears' haul is a massive one. Pending physicals, the Bears will acquire Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore, the No. 9 pick, a second-round pick this year, a 2024 first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2025.
The deal solidifies the three teams' intentions at quarterback. The Carolina Panthers will be selecting their quarterback of the future in April's draft with the Houston Texans following at No. 2. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are the leaders to go in the top-two in either order.
The Bears are all in with third-year quarterback Justin Fields, surrounding him with a No. 1 receiver and an offensive tackle. Meanwhile the Texans and Panthers are destined to draft their quarterbacks of the future in April.
"I think we're excited about Justin's progress since the time we got into Chicago, and we want to build off of that," Poles told CBS Sports at the combine last week. "We really do. He showed the ability to be explosive as a runner, had flashes as a passer, and we both have been open talking about we want to see progress moving forward, and I know he does too. He's a hard worker. He's going to put the time in, so we're excited about that."
Fields led all quarterbacks in the league last year in rushing with 1,143 yards. The Bears want to dial that back in 2023 moving forward.
"I would just say that he uses his legs when necessary," Bears coach Matt Eberflus told CBS Sports at the combine. "If we have a designed run for him, certainly he's going to use it then, but in critical moments, third down, fourth down in the red zone, and he's done that. But normal down situations, we just really want him just to take what's given to him, and then when he learns to do that, he'll be a little bit more effective."
Teams like the Bears and Packers were interested in Moore at the trade deadline last year but Carolina held firm. Moore signed a three-year, $61.9 million extension last spring, and the Panthers wanted a first-round pick and then some for Moore, according to sources.
Moore put together three consecutive seasons of at least 1,100 receiving yards from 2019-2021. He had a career-high seven touchdowns in 2022, but with so much turmoil at the quarterback position for Carolina last year, Moore mustered just 888 receiving yards.
The trade for the Panthers makes clear their plans for the draft. Young and Stroud are considered to be the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft. Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, who put together a historically athletic combine, seem to be on the outside but could threaten.
"There's so many different ways to play the position," Panthers head coach Frank Reich said about what he looks for in a quarterback in an interview with CBS Sports last week, "but at some level you got to be able to be an accurate passer. You got to have that toughness, you got to be a great leader, you got to be able to process information pretty quickly. At some level, you've got to be able to play from the pocket. I like all the movement stuff. There's guys that can move the launch point, get guys out of the pocket, but there's still that old school mentality of, 'Hey, there's going to be times in the game where you got to win from the pocket.' So those are some of the things you look for."