The top of the 2023 NFL Draft was shaken up drastically Friday by reported a blockbuster trade between the Bears and Panthers.
Carolina received the No. 1 overall pick from Chicago in exchange for the No. 9 overall pick. The Bears also received a 2024 first-round pick, two future second-round picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore as part of the trade.
MORE TRADE ANALYSIS:
The deal will allow the Panthers to target a potential franchise quarterback with the No. 1 overall selection. The Bears will use their treasure trove of new assets to upgrade the personnel surrounding third-year quarterback Justin Fields.
The trade will also have a ripple effect across the NFL. Several other teams will benefit from — or be disadvantaged by — the deal.
Here are the winners and the losers of the Bears-Panthers blockbuster, starting with the team that benefits most from it:
Bears-Panthers trade winners
Let’s start with the obvious one: the Bears absolutely won this trade. It was always expected that the team would trade the top pick to a quarterback-needy team given that Chicago has Justin Fields on the roster, but this package is larger than what most expected the team would get in exchange for the pick.
The Bears received two first-round picks (in 2023 and 2024) and two second-round picks (in 2024 and 2025) as part of the transaction, per reports. They now have the No. 9 overall pick in 2023 and will be well-positioned to land a top offensive tackle to help protect Fields. They could also land a player like Jalen Carter should he fall to the back end of the top 10 after his arrest.
The draft capital was a great get for the Bears, but to add D.J. Moore to the team to serve as a true, No. 1 receiver puts this deal over the top for them. Moore will turn 26 in April and has been a consistent producer during his time with the Panthers despite shoddy quarterback play. He has averaged 77 catches, 1,105 yards and four touchdowns per 17 games played.
For context, only one of Fields’ receivers topped 500 yards during the 2022 NFL season, tight end Cole Kmet (544). Darnell Mooney would have gotten there, too, had he not missed five games with an injury, but still, Moore should be a major upgrade and will lead a potentially dynamic receiving corps alongside Mooney, Kmet and Chase Claypool.
The Bears filled a lot of needs with this trade and are still positioned to be big spenders in free agency. That makes them the biggest winner of this deal.
Fields can rest easy for the remainder of the 2023 NFL offseason. He isn’t going anywhere.
This is excellent for Fields’ development. Had he been traded, he would have been playing for his third head coach and running his third offense in as many NFL seasons. That would have stunted his growth and, potentially, impacted his future earnings.
Instead, he will get to play under Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy for a second season. That will allow him to take a big step forward in Getsy’s offense from a mental processing standpoint. And, he’s getting a true No. 1 receiver in Moore.
The Bears made it clear that Fields was going to be the starter and that they weren’t going to pursue a quarterback despite landing the No. 1 overall pick. Still, the possibility remained that Chicago’s thinking could change the longer the team held off on completing a trade.
This deal confirms that Fields is the guy in Chicago. That will help to take a weight off his shoulders.
Some will question the Panthers being a winner in this trade. It’s easy to understand why, as Carolina gave up a lot to win the No. 1 pick sweepstakes.
This was a trade that the Panthers almost had to make. They have not been able to adequately replace Cam Newton and have long taken half-measures at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield have ranged from being serviceable to disastrous. It was time for the Panthers to develop their own quarterback.
The problem was that no passer was guaranteed to be on the board with the No. 9 overall pick, so Carolina had to trade up. Now, the team is positioned not only to get a top quarterback prospect but also get the one it most believes in and covets. That’s good news for a team that struck out in its pursuit of Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson and others in recent years.
Could this trade be a complete failure in a few years? Sure, it’s possible. But if the Panthers find a franchise quarterback from this deal, that will set them up for a decade of success. That’s something that the Panthers had to pursue at this point in their seemingly perpetual rebuild.
This trade is worth the risk for new coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer.
The Cardinals are the biggest indirect beneficiaries of this trade, because their pick (No. 3 overall) is now likely to be the highest pick available for trade.
The Panthers and Texans are both expected to select quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. It seems likely those teams will stay put, though a report from The Athletic’s Joe Person indicates that the Panthers haven’t ruled out trading down even after trading up to No. 1.
Arizona isn’t looking for a quarterback after signing Kyler Murray to a massive extension during the 2022 offseason. Trading down from No. 3 was the Cardinals’ preference even before the Bears made their move, per WalterFootball.com’s Charlie Campbell, and they now seem positioned to do it, as their pick is now a potential quarterback trade-up hotspot.
Bears-Panthers trade losers
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders find themselves in a tough spot after the Panthers’ trade up to No. 1. There are now three teams ahead of them in the draft order that are likely to select quarterbacks in the top five: the Panthers, Texans and Colts.
Unless the Raiders trade up to No. 3, it’s likely that only one of the projected four first-round quarterbacks will be on the board when they pick at No. 7 overall.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s possible that the Raiders could really like who’s still on the board at No. 7, and if they’re worried about who will be available, they could attempt to move ahead of the Colts via a trade with the Cardinals.
Still, there’s no doubt that the Raiders’ quarterback options for the 2023 NFL Draft are slimmer with Carolina’s big leap. Las Vegas may have to settle for a veteran stopgap like Jimmy Garoppolo rather than a player “that’s going to be here for a long time,” a desire coach Josh McDaniels expressed a desire at the NFL Combine.
IYER: Ranking the Raiders’ best options to replace Derek Carr
As long as the Bears remained atop the 2023 NFL Draft order, the Texans were effectively guaranteed to have their first choice of quarterback with the No. 2 selection.
That is no longer the case. Carolina’s trade up to No. 1 means that the Texans will have to sweat it out to see whether the prospect they most covet will be on the board with the No. 2 selection.
The extra painful part of this for the Texans is that they were positioned to earn the No. 1 pick entering Week 18 of the 2022 NFL season. They just needed to lose to the Colts. However, Lovie Smith ensured that wouldn’t happen, as he led his team to victory as a parting gift for the team that would fire him after just one season as head coach.
Like the Raiders, the Texans could still end up with the prospect they most desire. But the wait could prove excruciating.
MORE: What Texans can do in 2023 NFL Draft to address quarterback position
Young has been considered the consensus top quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft for most of the lead-up. But now it doesn’t look as if he will be the first quarterback off the board.
The Athletic reports that league insiders believe the Panthers moved up to No. 1 to select Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud rather than Young. That doesn’t mean Stroud is guaranteed to be the pick; there are still six weeks until the draft, after all.
But certainly, those reports will put a damper on Young’s prospects of being Alabama’s first No. 1 selection of the common draft era. And that will prove costly to Young, as the contract of the No. 2 pick is projected to be worth $1.85 million less than the contract for the No. 1 pick, per Spotrac.com.
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