Bears Trade No. 1 Pick to Panthers: Expert Reaction on DJ Moore, Draft Picks, Justin Fields, More
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: DJ Moore.
Holy Friday afternoon news dump!
Just when you were settling in for a huge weekend of college hoops on the brink of March Madness, the NFL stole the headlines with a huge trade that shakes up the top of the NFL draft.
The Carolina Panthers are reportedly trading star WR D.J. Moore and four draft picks for the No. 1 overall selection from the Chicago Bears. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has the details on Chicago’s massive haul:
Compensation update, per sources: Bears trading No. 1 overall pick to Carolina for:
🏈pick No. 9
🏈pick No. 61
🏈a first-round pick in 2024
🏈a second-round pick in 2025
🏈WR DJ Moore pic.twitter.com/hHrHn1UIR2
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2023
Let’s start with the Panthers side first.
Obviously, you only mortgage the franchise this if you’re moving up for a quarterback. The odds of a QB going first overall just went to something like minus a bazillion, and you won’t find that one available at sportsbooks any longer.
Which quarterback will it be? The party line answer right now will be something like, “We’ll see, we have over a month to figure it all out now,” but you don’t make a move like this unless you’re pretty locked onto one guy you absolutely have to have. Most of the time, that’s going to be a talent you can’t get or develop later — think Trey Lance and the 49ers after that trade up and weeks of rumors otherwise.
This could put Florida Anthony Richardson squarely in the mix at No. 1, a wild rise for a player who was a crazy long shot only a few weeks ago before his incredible combine results. Richardson is raw but has the sort of once-in-a-generation profile that pushed Travon Walker from intriguing prospect to No. 1 pick for the Jaguars a year ago — and he’s also reminded many of former Panthers QB Cam Newton.
Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young will also be in the mix. Young has been compared to a mini-Mahomes with his improvising ability, while Stroud has the positional size and all-around package.
It’s probably too early to bet on which of those three guys is the pick, but when you give up the farm like Carolina did, we have to assume it’s for a wild outlier the team had no chance of getting otherwise. Stroud is the new betting favorite to go No. 1 after the trade, but that doesn’t sound like Stroud to me. It sounds like either Young’s creativity or Richardson’s freak athleticism.
Huge movement in the odds to go first overall @DKSportsbook after the Panthers-Bears trade.
Bryce Young: -165 ➡️ +175
C.J. Stroud: +375 ➡️ -225 pic.twitter.com/YFkEf5RP0P
— Covers (@Covers) March 10, 2023
Make no mistake about it. The Panthers make this move only if they feel very strongly about one of these quarterbacks. They already know who they want — so be ready to pounce as a bettor when you think you have that information.
Whoever the pick is will have their work cut out for them. The Panthers are down to Terrace Marshall and Shi Smith at receiver, with Chubba Hubbard at running back, after blowing up the offense in what looks like a complete rebuild now.
The Panthers were a trendy sleeper a few weeks ago with the hiring of Frank Reich and a loaded coaching staff, but this move, combined with the addition of Derek Carr on the Saints, makes Carolina a long shot even in a weak division.
The Panthers will win this trade if they get their franchise QB, but the Bears already look like winners. This is an absolute haul for No. 1.
The focus will be on the draft picks, but I think this trade was about D.J. Moore for Chicago more than anything else. That’s why you make this move before free agency. Moore is a real prize and maybe the most important return piece in this deal.
This is a double all-in bet on Justin Fields. It’s a vote of confidence trading away the right to select an alternate QB, and it’s also an all-in move to go get Fields a legitimate WR1 in Moore, who caught over 300 balls for 4,419 yards and 19 scores the last four years despite playing in a tumultuous offense on a terrible team.
The wide receiver crop in free agency is incredibly weak, and after a few loaded years in the draft, it’s also bereft of a true WR1 talent at the top. Moore averaged 8.3 targets per game the last four seasons and brings the sort of explosion, hands and route running the Bears have rarely seen at receiver, maybe anytime in franchise history. He’s also under club control at a super manageable price for the next three years.
best Bears receivers of my lifetime:
1. Alshon Jeffery
2. Brandon Marshall
3. Allen Robinson
4. DJ Moore <———-
5. Marcus Robinson
6. Curtis Conway
7. Marty Booker
— Brandon Anderson (@wheatonbrando) March 10, 2023
Moore headlines a rejuvenated receiving corps that now includes Chase Claypool — Chicago may regret trading No. 32 for him now — and Darnell Mooney, plus tight end Cole Kmet. That’s a real receiving crew and frees Chicago up to address its awful offensive line and defense in the draft and free agency.
I think the Bears made this deal now — and this deal specifically, despite it dropping them all the way to No. 9 and out of range for Will Anderson — because they badly wanted to give Justin Fields a true WR1. Moore himself was probably worth at least a first-round pick, maybe more.
As for the draft picks, some draft charts would have made Carolina’s No. 9 and its first rounder next year — likely a good one with a rookie QB and a rebuilding team — about equal to the No. 1 pick. Chicago got that, plus a pair of second rounders on top of Moore. That’s a draft surplus equivalent of an additional top-10 pick even before factoring in Moore’s value. The Bears now have four picks in the top 64 this year, plus two firsts next season and two seconds in 2025.
All hail Chicago GM Ryan Poles. Lucking into the No. 1 pick when the Texans stupidly won their Week 18 finale has launched the Bears into the rebuild they’ve been waiting for.
Chicago is really set up to make a move. The Bears have their QB and WR of the future. Now they can use all that cap room and a deep war chest of draft picks to load up on defense and fix their shoddy offensive line.
They’re also in a win-win spot with Fields. Either he makes good on all that talent with the help of a true WR1 and Chicago won this bet, or he’s bad enough that the Bears end up with two top draft picks next spring and another chance to go back to the well in what looks like a great QB class.
If you’re a Fields believer, this might be the time to get some futures long shots in on Fields to win MVP or the Bears to win the Super Bowl — +3000 and +10000, respectively, at Caesars.
If Chicago hits its draft picks and uses its remaining cap wisely in free agency, Bears fans may one day look back on this trade as the move that kick-started the rebuild and finally gave Fields the talent he needed to lead a winning team in Chicago at last.
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