Grading the Chicago Bears Trade of the First Overall Pick to the Carolina Panthers for D.J. Moore and Picks

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Grading the Chicago Bears Trade of the First Overall Pick to the Carolina Panthers for D.J. Moore and Picks


Grading the Chicago Bears Trade of the First Overall Pick to the Carolina Panthers for D.J. Moore and Picks


Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With over a month and a half until day one of the NFL Draft, we’ve got the first major shakeup. The Chicago Bears are trading the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the ninth overall pick, 61st overall pick, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and wide receiver D.J. Moore. Now, let’s break down this blockbuster for both teams and stamp a grade on top.


Chicago Bears

When the Bears found themselves with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, it became fairly obvious they would trade the selection. They’ve still got a promising young quarterback in Justin Fields, whom they selected with the 11th overall pick two years ago. Trade down with a team that needs a quarterback (thus values the first pick highly), and recoup a ton of assets to help load the supporting cast around Fields up.

I’ve seen some people argue Chicago should’ve done the opposite; trade Justin Fields and reset at quarterback with a Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, etc. However, I completely disagree with this. Fields was nothing short of an elite prospect coming out of Ohio State. If he were in this year’s class, he’d have a very, very strong case to be ranked as my top quarterback. 

He’s far from complete as an NFL player, but remember that he’s extremely young, has already gone through two different coaching staffs in his first two seasons, and has been surrounded by an extremely subpar supporting cast. Considering how good he was as a prospect, the maturity he’s showcased through tough times, insane athletic tools, and plenty of enticing flashes, Chicago is making the right move by sticking with him. 

The next step is giving him both the proper protection and weapons to thrive, particularly within his rookie contract window. This trade is exactly that. First off, D.J. Moore gives Chicago a much-needed top option in the passing game. I think many fail to realize simply how good Moore truly is, just because he’s played with some really bad quarterbacks over his career in Carolina. 

He’s inside-outside versatile, can make plays at both the catch point and with the ball in his hands, and has alpha-production to back it up. He’s demanded over a 27.7% target share in back-to-back seasons, one of the highest marks in the NFL. If Fields takes the next step as a passer, I think the public will start to recognize Moore as a premiere receiver in the NFL. However, if you’ve been paying close attention, you’d know he’s already reached that level. And oh yeah, he’ll only be 26 years old by the start of next season.

That’s not all, though. Chicago has filled up the tank with plenty of draft capital. They’ve still got the ninth overall pick to select a high-end prospect in this year’s class, along with Carolina’s first-round pick next year. The Panthers have a young, budding defense, and perhaps their most promising head coach/quarterback tandem since the Ron Rivera and prime Cam Newton days. But even in a weak division, Carolina’s offense may hold them back from breaking out next season. A rookie quarterback with hardly any weapons doesn’t offer a ton of immediate promise. They picked up two second-rounders in the deal as well.

I’ll put it to you this way. Ryan Poles was up at the plate with bases loaded, but down by quite a few runs, and it was starting to get pretty late in the game. The Bears have struggled to develop Fields properly over their first two years, but they had a big scoring opportunity to cash in on this first overall pick and get themselves back in play. Poles tapped his bat on the plate twice, stared the pitcher in the eye, and hit a grand slam.

The timing of this trade was nearly perfect. Right after the combine where the stock of these quarterbacks only went up, but also right before free agency, when many quarterback needy teams get taken out of the trade market, as they sign a veteran to satisfy that need. On top of it all, I love the haul they got back. Poles was put in a good leverage spot with this pick, and he delivered.

Grade: A+


Carolina Panthers

It’s been pretty clear the Panthers would be serious players to trade up for the first overall pick. They’ve gone through an extremely frustrating carousel of quarterback mediocrity for a while now, and owner David Tepper has grown restless. His passion to land a franchise quarterback is extremely high, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is this offseason. Hiring Frank Reich – a former NFL quarterback – as their new head coach was a telltale sign that Carolina was looking to acquire and develop a top quarterback.

I really like the Panthers getting aggressive here. You need a franchise quarterback in today’s NFL, and in order to land that guy (excluding a few outlier examples), you’ve got to pay up for it. And oh boy, the Panthers paid handsomely. I love that this ensures Carolina will get their guy in this year’s draft. What concerns me is how they’ll build around him.

With D.J. Moore out of town, the Panthers receiving core is decimated, and they’ve still got some spots in both the backfield and on the offensive line to plug away at. Unfortunately, they’re not left with much high-end draft capital to help fill these needs. Both grades are obviously a bit “to be determined” considering we don’t know which prospects each team will take with their picks. However, I feel that is especially the case for Carolina.

Regardless, I like the thought process here. Chicago definitely walks away as the “winner” of this trade, but lots of that is contingent on the different positions each of these organizations are at. Carolina really paid up, and there’s not a Joe Burrow or an Andrew Luck level prospect in this class. With that being said, I respect Carolina for getting aggressive, and if their next quarterback can get through the year one bruises, Carolina may find themselves in a pretty good spot.

Trade Grade: B

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