Almost two months before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears dealt the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a massive package featuring multiple first-round selections.
The Panthers sent Picks No. 9 and No. 61 overall in this year’s draft, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Bears, ESPN reported.
While that might seem like a large haul, Joe Banner, an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes the Panthers didn’t overpay.
“There is maybe no team that has tried harder than Carolina to get a quarterback, who can lead them to where they want to go,” Banner said. “They’ve built a good defense already. The quarterback position was keeping them from becoming one of the top teams in the league. In my opinion, they got [the No. 1 overall pick] at a reasonable price.”
The Bears were expected to move the top pick in this year’s draft to one of several quarterback-needy teams picking in or near the top 10. The Panthers now have their choice of draft’s top four quarterbacks: Alabama’s Bryce Young (scouting report), Kentucky’s Will Levis (scouting report), Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (scouting report), and Florida’s Anthony Richardson (scouting report).
Carolina’s climb from No. 9 to No. 1 is the second-largest jump into the No. 1 spot in the last 30 years, trailing only the Los Angeles Rams moving up from No. 15 overall in 2016 to select Jared Goff.
In addition to sending considerable draft capital to the Bears, the Panthers also traded Moore, a former first-round receiver with three 1,000-yard campaigns and 5,201 yards across his first five NFL seasons, all with Carolina. The acquisition gives the Bears the marquee No. 1 receiver that quarterback Justin Fields has been missing the past two seasons.
“The Bears are truly looking for a No. 1 receiver,” said Dave Wannstedt, an analyst for The 33rd. “The Bears got a starting receiver … they got a guy that is going to come in, line up and play for them. So, that’s like throwing in another No. 1 pick, in my mind.”
With a run of QBs expected at the top of the draft, remaining in the top 10 still allows the Bears to select one of the draft’s top players, including some top-line defenders.
The Panthers have been stuck in quarterback limbo for several seasons. Last season, Carolina used a litany of quarterbacks, with Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker all starting games. Mayfield is now with the Rams, while Darnold and Walker are free agents, leaving last year’s third-round pick Matt Corral as the only quarterback on the team’s roster.
Carolina has not selected a quarterback in the first round since 2011 since taking Cam Newton at No. 1 overall.
The trade now sets up the Houston Texans to take a quarterback second overall and the Arizona Cardinals to entertain offers for the third pick. Every team picking from fourth through eighth, starting with the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks at Nos. 4 and 5, could need a quarterback.