Four days ago, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles said the following about trading the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, "No one's gonna rush me. I know I can get a '24 [first-round pick] and a '25 [first-round pick]. You're telling me for the next two years I'll have two ones? That's either four really good players, or if we're cruising, we can still trade back."
On Friday, Poles and the Bears got what they were looking from the Carolina Panthers, trading the No. 1 overall pick to a team that has been desperately searching for their first answer at quarterback since Cam Newton, who went to become the 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2015 NFL MVP, and a three-time Pro Bowler. The Bears received the Panthers' ninth overall pick (first round) and their second second-round pick (61st overall pick) in the 2023 draft as well as a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and 25-year-old wide receiver DJ Moore, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. Friday's transaction marks the 13th time the first overall pick has been traded in the common draft era (since 1967) either before, during or after the draft.
The Panthers will now be making only their second all-time selection using the first overall pick with Newton in 2011 serving as their team's only player taken to start the draft. New Panthers head coach Frank Reich had a different starting quarterback in Week 1 for five consecutive seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, and the Panthers rotated through quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and P.J. Walker in recent years. Both the franchise and its head coach can have their preferred choice of Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Kentucky's Will Levis or Florida's Anthony Richardson. The trade up is long overdue since Panthers quarterbacks threw a combined 63 touchdowns to 71 interceptions the last four seasons, the fewest passing touchdowns and most interceptions by an NFL team's quarterbacks room in that time. The Panthers are also the only team with more interceptions than passing touchdowns since 2018.
Panthers quarterbacks since 2018
Cam Newton (14), Taylor Heinicke (1), Kyle Allen (1)
Kyle Allen (12), Cam Newton (2), Will Grier (2)
Teddy Bridgewater (15), PJ Walker (1)
Sam Darnold (11), Cam Newton (5), PJ Walker (1)
Baker Mayfield (6), Sam Darnold (6), PJ Walker (5)
* 63 passing touchdowns and 71 interceptions combined (Only team in NFL with more INT than pass TD in span)
For the Bears, they have now secured a true No. 1 wide receiver for Justin Fields. Moore had 63 receptions, 888 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns in 2022. The 888 receiving yards, the fewest since his rookie year in 2018, snapped a three-year streak of seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards for Moore from 2019-2021, but his seven receiving touchdown were a career high.
His 63 catches were also his fewest since his rookie year, yet both his receptions and receiving yards would've been the most on the Bears in 2022. Chicago's passing game and Fields' development as a passer have received a significant shot in the arm with the addition of Moore. Other young quarterbacks like the Bills' Josh Allen, Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa and Eagles' Jalen Hurts took off after each team acquired star wideouts Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown.
The Bears now have four picks in the first 64 of the 2023 NFL Draft with picks nine, 53, 61 and 64. They will also have multiple first-round picks in 2024, and multiple second-round picks in 2025, a hopeful outlook for a team going through a total rebuild.