Winners and Losers of the Bears Trading 2023 NFL Draft No. 1 Pick to Panthers
0 out of 5
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Ever since the Chicago Bears finished the 2022 season with the NFL’s worst record (and with it the first pick in the 2023 draft), there has been speculation that they could land the first overall pick. After all, of all the things that went wrong in Chicago last year, the work of Justin Fields was a bright spot.
On Friday, the speculation became reality – sending shockwaves throughout the league in the process.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears’ top pick now belongs to the Carolina Panthers. In exchange, the Panthers surrendered first-round picks in 2023 and 2024, second-round picks in 2023 and 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore.
The trade shakes up Round 1 of the 2023 draft in a big way, and there’s no doubt that it’s a big deal for both the Bears and Panthers, and that we can’t rate the deal just yet. It will be some time before we really know who came out on top. A lot will depend on Carolina’s pick at No. 1 and who the Bears use all that capital on.
However, while the full outcome of this big match may not yet be known, there are already some players and teams smiling from ear to ear.
And others who are not so happy.
Winner: Chicago Bears
1 out of 5
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This biggest winner from Friday’s blockbuster was the most obvious. Ever since the Chicago Bears said they were committed to Justin Fields as their starting quarterback in 2023, talk has turned to what the team could get in a trade.
As it turned out, it was quite a lot.
The Bears were able to stay inside the top 10 in this year’s draft while adding an additional first-rounder in 2024. Chicago also got a pick in the back of Round 2 this year and another second-rounder in 2025—with the former getting back at least one part of the capital lost in the Chase Claypool fiasco.
And finally, the Bears got a proven wide receiver in DJ Moore, who topped 1,000 receiving yards three times in five years despite playing with a menagerie of mediocrity at quarterback. Moore may not be an elite talent at the position, but he’s instantly becoming the best wide receiver on the Bears’ roster — by quite a margin.
It’s also worth looking at what Carolina’s 2024 first-round pick might look like. Frank Reich is a good coach, but he’ll be leading a team with either a rookie quarterback or a rookie quarterback and arguably the worst skill set in the NFL.
Matching last year’s seven wins could be a tall order — and that leaves the Bears with an extra top-10 pick.
There’s a reason the Bears jumped on this offer.
It was anything but definitely the best they were going to get.
Loser: Whoever the Panthers draft at No. 1
2 out of 5
Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Being the first overall pick in the NFL draft is already full of pressure. For every Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence who continues to have some early success, there’s a Baker Mayfield or David Carr who doesn’t.
Often, a young signal caller’s lack of success has as much to do with the talent (or lack thereof) around him as with the player himself. Carr was drafted by an expansion team from the Texans and then was sacked 76 times as a rookie.
Carr began to hear footsteps. Seeing ghosts. And it destroyed him.
Now, that doesn’t mean Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Florida’s Anthony Richardson would be doomed to be part of the Panthers. Reich is a former NFL quarterback himself and has shown more than a little ability to develop the position.
But other than that, whoever the Panthers make with the first overall pick will inherit a tough situation.
After the Moore trade, Carolina’s presumptive No. 1 wide receiver is a completely unproven junior in Terrace Marshall Jr. After trading away so much capital, the Panthers will be hard-pressed to shore up that draft room and free agent crop at one of the weakest positions in years.
The Panthers’ leading rusher in 2022 (D’Onta Foreman) is a free agent. Carolina’s offensive line isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either—the Pro Football Network ranked it 13th in the league.
Viewing 2023 as a “redshirt” year may be wise regardless of which QB is selected. By almost any objective measure, Richardson needs time to develop, and if it’s Stroud or Young, he could be in for a rude awakening after playing collegiately for a team loaded with talent all over the place.
Winner: Justin Fields
3 out of 5
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At this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, Bears general manager Ryan Poles told reporters that the Bears were going to do their due diligence on this year’s quarterback class—but that they entered that evaluation with Justin Fields as their presumptive starter.
“Justin did some really good things – I’m excited about where the game is going to go,” Poles said. “But at the same time, when you look at our situation as a whole, you’ve got to do your due diligence. You’ve got to research everything. You’ve got to spend time with these guys just to make sure we’re making the right decision. What’s important to me , and I think everybody knows me by now and how I want to treat our players, we’ll be in communication with Justin along the way just to make sure he knows what we’re doing and nothing is a surprise to him.”
On Friday, the Bears put their money where their mouth is and doubled down on Fields by trading the first overall pick — and in doing so also set themselves up to build around the third-year pro.
Fields was electrifying on the ground in 2022, flirting with the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. But he also struggled to throw the ball and win games. However, those struggles can be attributed in part to perhaps the worst pass-catching weapons in the NFL and an offensive line that has been, well, bad.
In Moore, the Bears have already bolstered their pass-catching weapons. The ninth pick could be used for one of this year’s top receivers or offensive linemen—unless the Bears trade up and collect even more picks.
Add in a whopping $75.2 million (the most in the league) and Fields will have a markedly better cast environment.
Now it’s up to former Ohio State to take advantage.
Loser: The Las Vegas Raiders…and Every Other QB-Needy Team Outside the Top Four
4 out of 5
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It’s not fair to single out the Las Vegas Raiders as the only QB-needy team that just got kicked in the teeth by Friday’s blockbuster.
But as the team with the highest pick that also has a massive hole under center, the Raiders are the poster team for franchises that threw in equal measure sneaks and furniture when this deal was announced.
There are 10 mock drafts listed on the post-combine mock tracker on the Raiders website. All 10 have the Raiders drafting a quarterback with their first pick.
Only one (Todd McShay’s on ESPN) involved a trade — and that trade is now out the window as it had the Bears move from No. 1 to No. 4 and then back down to No. 7.
You can officially set fire to all 10 of these drafts.
The Carolina Panthers are 100% drafting a quarterback with the first pick. Odds are surprisingly high that the Houston Texans (No. 2) and Indianapolis Colts (No. 4) will as well. The Texans can’t keep pounding the box under center, and Jim Irsay has been desperate at QB since Andrew Luck retired.
If you think another team in need of a quarterback (the Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to name a few) isn’t strongly considering moving on from the Raiders, then there’s a sweet piece of oceanfront property near Yuma I can get you one smoking negotiate.
If the Raiders want one of their top four quarterbacks, they’ll have to make a move. Their other options are to sign an uninspired veteran like Jimmy Garoppolo or simply bring up Jarrett Stidham and play out the 2023 season.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
5 out of 5
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That brings us to the biggest winner of this entire transaction outside of the state of Illinois.
Just like the Raiders, the Arizona Cardinals were reeling when Friday’s trade was announced. But where there were interjections of dismay in Sin City, there were exclamations of joy in the desert.
Speaking to reporters at the complex, new general manager Monty Ossenforth said the Cardinals would be open to discussions about the third overall pick.
“Our phone will also be open and I’m open to any conversation for anyone willing to come,” Ossenfort said. “I think with that No. 3 pick, it’s an opportunity to add a player, it’s an opportunity to get potential calls on that pick and ultimately, we’ll make the best decision for us at that time.”
Which makes sense. Whether you believe in Kyler Murray or not, the Cardinals are financially committed to him. Even if he’s not the guy, he’s the guy.
And now that phone will ring hook.
The Panthers take fourth. The Texans are very likely to follow suit. And the Colts are lurking at No. 4, waiting to get one of their own.
It’s not just a matter of landing one of the “Big Four” of Young, Stroud, Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis. The point is to get ahead of Indy to make sure the QB you want isn’t taken by the Colts.
The worst case scenario for the Cardinals is to have their non-quarterback option. The best case scenario is to land an impact player while adding a slew of options.
Just like Chicago did.