It has been a topic of much speculation over the weeks and months since the NFL regular season ended. Now, it’s finally happening. The Chicago Bears are trading the No. 1 overall draft pick.
General manager Ryan Poles is sending the top pick in the 2023 draft to the Carolina Panthers, as first reported by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. In exchange for the top pick, the Bears will receive the No. 9 overall pick and the No. 61 overall pick in this year’s draft, a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025 and Panthers star wide receiver D.J. Moore, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Ever since the Houston Texans won their season finale in Week 18 – in doing so, handing the Bears the right to the draft’s top pick – the possibility of the Bears trading the pick has loomed large over the offseason. At the NFL Combine in late February, Poles went as far as to say his team has “always leaned” toward trading the pick.
With quarterback Justin Fields running the offense and showing promise, the Bears have little need for one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. Following a weak group of rookie quarterbacks in 2022, there are plenty of teams out there who look like they could be searching for the next young quarterback star. Because of that, Poles knew there could be tremendous value in trading the No. 1 overall pick.
The Panthers are apparently one of those teams willing to pay the price to move up and grab a quarterback. This is the first time the No. 1 overall pick has been traded since 2016, when the Tennessee Titans traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted quarterback Jared Goff.
In acquiring multiple first-round picks for the No. 1 overall pick, Poles has given himself a haul of draft picks with which he can do any number of things. The Bears are in the midst of a massive overhaul, and all those picks should help the cause.
Moore appeared to be a key piece to the deal. Poles hinted at the NFL Combine that he might be seeking a player in the deal. Moore has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his five-year NFL career and could be an instant game-changer for the Bears’ offense. He will be 26 years old next season and is under contract through 2025.
The Bears haven’t had the first overall pick in the draft since 1947. After this trade, they still will not have picked first since then.
Executing this trade now, as opposed to closer to the draft, gives Poles a better sense of what assets he has at his disposal heading into the draft on April 27. The move is also further proof that the Bears are all in on Fields at quarterback. They wouldn’t make such a move if they saw a quarterback in the draft who they believed might be better than Fields longterm.
The challenge now becomes surrounding Fields with the proper weapons and talent around him. Draft picks are nice to have, but they don’t mean much if Poles and the front office staff don’t turn them into quality players.