Bears trading No. 1 overall pick to Panthers for haul that includes WR DJ Moore, sources say

CHICAGO — The Bears are trading four draft picks and the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for wide receiver DJ Moore, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

According to Schefter, the Bears would receive Carolina’s first round pick at No. 9, the 61st pick (at the end of the second round), a 2024 first round pick and a 2025 second round pick.

Talks for the No. 1 pick had intensified since last week’s NFL scouting combine, sources told Schefter, with several teams including the Houston Texans also expressing interest in striking a deal with Chicago.

A league source said the Panthers initially reached out to Chicago, in addition to several other teams at the top of the draft, to inquire about the possibility of moving during the combine. The source said talks with the Bears began a few days ago and came to a head Friday as Panthers officials saw value in getting a deal done before free agency begins Monday.

Carolina ultimately wanted the top pick because it gave it the most options. According to the source, team officials are confident of more than two of the top quarterbacks, but are not focused on one as they are still in the evaluation process ahead of the April 27-29 draft.

League sources said they were high on Kentucky’s Will Lewis early last season and were impressed with Lewis, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. But should the Panthers fall in love with one or two quarterbacks, they would consider trading a spot or two, according to a league source.

This will be the third time that the Panthers have secured the top spot. He had it in his first season, 1995, but traded it to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the No. 5 pick and the No. 36 pick in the second round. They selected quarterback Kerry Collins at No. 5.

He also had the top pick in 2011 and picked Cam Newton of Auburn, who won the 2015 MVP and led Carolina to the Super Bowl.

While the Panthers initially did not want to part with Moore, the 24th pick of the 2018 draft and their top wide receiver over the last five years, they agreed in part because the Bears wanted the former Maryland star. The source said that moving on from Moore prevented Carolina from making another future first-round challenge.

The Panthers now plan to be active at wide receiver in the free agent market with Terrence Marshall Jr., Shea Smith and Lavisca Chenault Jr. They are the only proven receivers and no one is a proven No. 1. They had a combined 77 catches in 2022.

Meanwhile, on the Bears’ side, receivers are a major need for the team after Darnell Mooney finished with a team-high 493 receiving yards and two touchdowns, despite missing the final five games of the season due to injury. . Before adding Moore, who put together three 1,000-yard seasons from 2019 to 2021, the Bears only had Mooney, Chase Claypool, Wallace Jones Jr. and Equanimius St. Brown under contract at the receiver position.

The Bears will inherit the rest of Moore’s three-year contract extension, signed in March 2022. The wide receiver, who posted a career-high seven touchdowns last season, has a base salary of $19.965 million for the 2023 season.

The move confirms the Bears’ continued support of quarterback Justin Fields, who is coming off his second NFL season. He completed the pass for 64 yards, a single-season quarterback rushing record. Chicago general manager Ryan Poles has stated that the Bears plan to remain the starting quarterback in 2023 despite doing their homework on the quarterbacks available in the draft throughout the season.

“His athletic ability and ability to make explosive plays was special,” Poles said. “Now, what we’ve discussed about, and I talked openly about, like, he has to take the next step in his game and I’m excited to see that because I think he’s going to.”

Poles confirmed at the combine last week that the team was willing to deal with the No. 1 pick and expressed optimism that the Bears could find a trade partner before free agency, a scenario he believed would affect the franchise. would benefit and could acquire a player in addition to the draft. chooses.

“There’s a clear view of what we need and scenarios where you can add players as well, potentially, that gives you some clarity on what you want to do in the draft and free agency,” Poles said.

Carolina has been searching for a franchise quarterback since Newton developed shoulder problems in the middle of the 2015 season. It departed Newton prior to the 2020 season and left with Teddy Bridgewater.

The Panthers traded in 2021 for Sam Darnold, the third pick in the 2018 draft. They traded for Baker Mayfield, the top pick of the 2018 draft, before last season.

They were recently in discussions for former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who signed with the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Monday. During those discussions at the combine, team officials decided to focus on acquiring a quarterback in the draft.

Of their potential choices at quarterback, Kentucky’s Lewis is rated by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. as their top quarterback, but other analysts believe Alabama’s Young will be the first quarterback selected.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said of Young at the combine, “Balance, competitiveness, ability to process and see the field.” And then you meet him in person and he’s totally cool. He is a good boy. Nothing is too big for him.

“I remember at the Heisman Trophy presentation a few years ago … and he was so prepared. I think he was [20] At that point, it is not a task. It seems to be who he is. It is embedded in him.

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