Bears general manger Ryan Poles hinted a week ago at the NFL Combine that he might be seeking a player in any trade that included the first overall draft pick.
“There’s scenarios where you could add players as well, potentially, which again, gives you some clarity on what you want to do in the draft and free agency,” Poles said of the possibility.
On Friday, he closed just such a deal.
The Bears traded the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a haul of draft picks that included the No. 9 overall pick, the No. 61 overall pick, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. Also included in the deal was Panthers star receiver D.J. Moore.
The #Bears have traded the No. 1 overall draft pick!— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) March 10, 2023
In exchange, they will receive:
• No. 9 overall pick
• No. 61 overall pick
• a 2024 first-round pick
• a 2025 second-round pick
• WR D.J. Moore https://t.co/ZWzk3MDH44
In grabbing Moore in the deal, Poles added draft capital while also eliminating a key position of need. Moore instantly becomes the most established wide receiver on the Bears’ roster. He has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his five-year NFL career. He will be 26 years old next season and is under contract through 2025, albeit with a $20 million cap hit each season.
But the Bears no longer have to wade into a murky wide receiver free agent class or the uncertainty of the draft. They still could draft a receiver, but it becomes less of a high priority. With Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool at receiver, along with Cole Kmet at tight end, quarterback Justin Fields all of the sudden has a promising-looking group of players to throw the football to.
So who is Moore and how does he fit with the Bears?
The Panthers selected Moore with a first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2018 draft out of Maryland. He was an instant contributor, totaling 788 yards and two touchdowns his rookie season, quarterback Cam Newton’s last as the full-time starter in Carolina.
Moore turned in three consecutive seasons with at least 1,100 receiving yards in 2019, 2020 and 2021. His numbers dipped in 2022 – 63 catches for 888 yards and seven touchdowns – but the Panthers were a mess at quarterback with Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker all starting games at various points.
Moore, who grew up in Philadelphia, measures in at 6-foot, 210 pounds. He produced all those big numbers with a revolving door of quarterbacks in Carolina. In addition to Newton, Darnold, Mayfield and Walker, Kyle Allen and Teddy Bridgewater were at one point the starting QBs for the Panthers.
In March 2022, Moore and the Panthers agreed to a three-year, $62 million contract extension through 2025.
If Moore could produce with those quarterbacks, it would seem he could do even more with a more reliable quarterback. The Bears believe they have that in Fields. At the very least, Poles is making sure he gives Fields enough weapons to determine if he’s the long-term answer at quarterback.
The biggest criticism of the 2022 Bears might have been that Fields had no help from his receivers. This was especially true when Mooney and Claypool missed time with injuries. On paper, the trio of Mooney, Claypool and Moore should be productive and dynamic.