Why Bears traded No. 1 pick before free agency revealed

The Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers on Friday. Here’s why they made the move ahead of free agency.

On March 10, 2023, the NFL Draft board was officially shaken up. The Chicago Bears received the No. 1 overall pick by way of having the worst record this past season, and were given an assist in the form of a Houston Texans win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18. With plenty of quarterback-needy teams hovering around, the Bears had the chance to cash in. They did just that, thanks to the Carolina Panthers.

According to ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Bears sent the No. 1 pick to the Panthers in exchange for the No. 9 and 61 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

That is a gigantic haul for the Bears. But why did general manager Ryan Poles make the move now instead of after the start of the 2023 league year on March 15? According to NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport, the Bears wanted Moore, and they wanted to know they had him before the start of the league year.

Reason the Bears traded away No. 1 pick ahead of free agency revealed

Securing a No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Justin Fields ahead of free agency? Not bad, considering that the free agency class isn’t exactly loaded with elite options.

DaBearsBlog tweeted out that they were told the Panthers wanted to throw in a 2025 first-round pick in the trade, but Poles wanted Moore. Obviously, Poles won out and got Moore.

Moore was recently given a three-year, $61.9 million contract extension by the Panthers, which officially kicks in this season. So, the Bears will be on the hook for that deal, which they will undoubtedly have no issue with, considering they were set to have the most cap space out of any team in the 2023 league year.

This past season, Moore caught 63 passes for 888 yards and seven touchdowns on 118 targets. In his five years with the team, Moore recorded 364 receptions for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns on 616 targets.

The Panthers get their choice of quarterback, while the Bears get draft capital and a top wide receiver to build around Fields.

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