by Evan Bruner
The Chicago Bears officially traded away their first overall pick in the upcoming draft on Friday afternoon to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the ninth overall pick, the No. 61 pick, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and wide receiver D.J. Moore.
Though the specifics of the deal have been finalized, the trade won’t be made official until the start of the new season this coming Wednesday. Upon acquiring the first overall pick, the Bears were widely expected to make a move. Given Justin Fields’ improvement toward the end of the season, Chicago wasn’t in dire need of a quarterback.
The trade itself is big for the Bears for several reasons. First, the influx of draft capital is truly massive for an organization bereft of talent. The significance of acquiring multiple first and second-round picks can’t be overstated. Second, the Bears struck a deal before free agency opened. Now knowing where they’ll be picking and what players are likely to be available, the team can map out their free agency targets accordingly.
Finally, in moving their top pick, the Bears were able to fill a major position of need, wide receiver. This area was a particularly concerning one for the team entering the offseason due to the lack of talent available in both the draft and free agency. Instead of overpaying for Allen Lazard or Jakobi Meyers, the team has a talented young receiver that can play on the outside. All of a sudden, the trio of Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, and DJ Moore doesn’t sound so bad.
This deal checked almost every box for the Bears. Several draft picks over the next few years and an immediate contributor. While some fans may detest trading with the Panthers down to the ninth overall pick, as opposed to the Indianapolis Colts or Houston Texans, who have top-five picks, it’s important to point out that dropping to nine forced Carolina to offer additional compensation.
For the Panthers, this move sets the stage for the next era of Carolina football. The last time the organization held the No. 1 overall pick, they drafted future MVP Cam Newton. With new head coach Frank Reich, the team is ready for a fresh start, and a new quarterback is key to that. The current odds-on favorite for this pick is Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. However, Florida’s Anthony Richardson has gained serious traction in recent weeks, making him a noteworthy sleeper.