NFL draft: Biggest pros and cons of Panthers-Bears blockbuster trade

The 2023 NFL Draft is 48 days away, but arguably the biggest deal has already taken place: The Chicago Bears reportedly sent the #1 pick to the Carolina Panthers for wide receiver DJ Moore, the #9 pick, and the #61 pick. in the first round in 2024 and a second round pick in 2025.

The move will have far-reaching implications and could completely change the trajectories of two franchises looking for a new identity.

On the one hand, the Bears are moving into a pivotal third season with Justin Fields at center and into their second season with general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberfluth at the helm. This move allows the Poles to change the composition in their own image and fill in huge positional gaps in the composition.

And at the other end of the Panther, a team with an expensive new coaching staff led by former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. The franchise has been in quarterback purgatory since Cam Newton left in 2020. General manager Scott Fitterer seems to have given up on a lot when asked about the team’s quarterback, but at least the decision is in sight after four years of ambiguity and time delay. choice.

The Carolina Panthers now own number 1. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) #
Frank Reich and the Carolina Panthers have the first pick in the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Why did the Bears do it?

The trade gives Chicago an additional early pick in each of the next three drafts, which is very important for a team with a young quarterback and lots of holes. The Bears now have two second-round picks this year, even after the team traded their own to the Pittsburgh Steelers for wide receiver Chase Claypool – No. 53 (after trading Roquan Smith) and No. 61. Chicago pick No. 64 opens the third round. .

Poles can deal a lot of damage with these three spades and pick #9.

The acquisition of a large company in Moore is perhaps the most underestimated aspect of this transaction. Moore will be 26 by the start of the season and has amassed at least 1,100 receiving yards in 2019-21 with quarterbacks like Kyle Allen, Will Grier, Teddy Bridgewater, PJ Walker and a waning Newton. In 2022, he caught a career-high seven touchdowns with 888 receiving yards with Walker, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield in center. Moore’s contract is also very flexible after this season, with a $20.1 million salary cap in 2023, but only $1.1 million guaranteed in the last two years. for a cap.

The Bears have enough room to cover Moore’s salary and still lead the league with an actual salary cap of roughly $70 million (including pending rookie signings). Over the cap. Moore, Claypool, forward Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet and running back Khalil Herbert are a solid young core that Fields can work with, and the cap space will allow the Poles to bolster their defensive and offensive lines with veterans on the loose.

Ryan Poles has made his biggest move ever as general manager of the Chicago Bears.  (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Ryan Poles made his biggest move as Chicago Bears general manager on Friday. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Why the Bears might regret it

The only real consequence of the Chicago trade is that the Bears are back in 9th place. Yes, Chicago will still get a top 10 player, but the team could be missing out on some of the best defensive prospects who might not fall that far down the board. Players like Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson and defenseman Jalen Carter are predicted to be in the top five in Charles McDonald’s latest trial draft.

Chicago may have to settle for a third- or fourth-best guard, depending on how the board falls, or take on an offensive lineman. Options include winger Nolan Smith, Oregon guard Christian Gonzalez, Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson, or Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison.

However, the bears are in a very good position next month and at least next year.

Why did the Panthers do it?

Carolina will likely be looking to pick her future quarterback. although several reports indicate that the Panthers could still withdraw if they like more than one passerby. Either way, Fitterer and Reich have all options – Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Lewis.

There’s something to be said for clarity in the most important position in football, especially after years of mediocre options under the post.

The next Panthers quarterback will work with an incredibly experienced staff that includes two former NFL quarterbacks, Reich and QB coach Josh McKeown, as well as a student of Sean McVeigh in offensive coordinator Thomas Browne and a two-time former head coach in senior assistant Jim Caldwell. .

Moving “my boyfriend” to the center is the biggest plus, but two other less important aspects of the trade that will help the Panthers recover include canceling Moore’s contract and keeping the team’s 2023 second-round pick. Carolina will have about $14 million in effective pay cap – excluding other veteran cuts – with Moore gone, and could still get a possible No. 39 starter. All of this is possible due to the trade of Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers for the 2022 season – the Panthers sent the Bears the 61st pick of the 49ers in the deal, and they still have four picks in rounds of 3- 5.

Why the Panthers might regret it

After that, in Carolina, the closet is empty, and McCaffrey is trading.

The Panthers’ receiving corps after Moore is poor: Terrace Marshall Jr. (45 career receptions, one touchdown), Laviska Cheneau (148 career receptions, six touchdowns), and Shea Smith (28 receptions, two touchdowns).

Leading rusher D’Onta Foreman is on the waiting list for a free agent, and Chuba Hubbard has been successful in his career. Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas had 35 receptions, 502 yards and three touchdowns together last season.

For a starting quarterback, that’s not much. The Panthers will need to add a lot of free agent and draft figures – that will be harder to do now with fewer drafts in the next few years. The Panthers have just two top 100 picks since this year’s first pick.

While the price of an eight-position move wasn’t necessarily more than the price of six other No. 1 pick trades since 1990, it was still a lot. The Los Angeles Rams sent the Tennessee Titans two seconds, two thirds and one future first to move from 15th to 1st in 2016, while the Panthers only sent their own 9th spade, two seconds, one future first and receiver (whom they were buying as a first round by the 2022 trade deadline).

Carolina better hope that whatever quarterback it needs can save its franchise.


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