Reports: Bears trade No. 1 overall pick in 2023 NFL Draft to Panthers

The Chicago Bears have made their long-expected trade of the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, swapping places with the Carolina Panthers at No. 9, per multiple reports. 

The Panthers are reportedly sending back the No. 9 overall pick, a late second-round pick (No. 61 overall), a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick as well as star wide receiver D.J. Moore.

With quarterback Justin Fields entering his third season after being acquired with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Chicago was expected to move the pick to a QB-hungry team in exchange for additional draft capital.

Carolina, coming off a 7-10 with an emerging defense and running game, was the team to meet the Bears’ asking price.


The Panthers now own the top pick for just the second time in franchise history — Carolina selected Auburn quarterback Cam Newton at No. 1 in 2011 — and will likely choose between the top QBs available.

Alabama’s Bryce Young was the first QB off the board in FOX Sports’ post-combine mock draft, but Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud is also ranked by some evaluators as a potential top pick. Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis are also projected as potential top 10 selections.

The Panthers are considering up to three quarterbacks, one of the people familiar with the deal said.

Following Carolina at No. 1, the rest of the top five picks are owned by Houston at No. 2, Arizona at No. 3, Indianapolis at No. 4 and Seattle at No. 5. 

The No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft has been traded 13 times prior to the draft, since the NFL/AFL merger in 1967. It last happened in 2016, when the Titans traded the first pick to the Rams two weeks before the draft, with the Rams moving up from the 15th pick to select quarterback Jared Goff.

[Bears get help for Justin Fields, secure their future in trading No. 1 pick]

The Panthers might not have gotten the QB they wanted if they had stayed at No. 9.

“You go get the guy that you want, you know,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said last week at the scouting combine about potentially trading up for a quarterback. “If you have a conviction on a guy, you go get him. It’s pretty simple that way. If you don’t know and you’re going to give all these resources to go up and get it, you’re hurting your team in the long run. You better be right. You better have conviction if you do move up. When you do that, you’re all in.”

The Panthers have been seeking stability at quarterback since David Tepper bought the team in 2018.

Bears trade No. 1 overall pick in NFL Draft to Panthers

They have tried several starters — including Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater and even bringing back Newton for a second stint. But none of those options has worked out and Carolina hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017. 

The Panthers decided against making an offer to free agent Derek Carr with an eye toward selecting a quarterback in the draft. Carr got a four-year, $150 million deal from the division rival New Orleans Saints. Carolina didn’t want to invest that much in a veteran. 

Fitterer has repeatedly said in the past that he likes the idea of drafting a QB because it allows for more salary cap flexibility. 

The only quarterbacks currently on the Panthers’ roster are last year’s third-round draft pick Matt Corral and Jacob Eason, who saw action in one game as an emergency backup. Darnold and PJ Walker, who both started at QB last year, are set to become free agents. 

Moore gives the Bears a solid receiver to pair with Fields, who lacked reliable downfield options but leaned on his legs and playmaking ability during an electrifying second season. Moore was considered a must-have by the Bears, one of the people familiar with the deal said. Without him, the deal would not have been completed, the person said. 

Moore has been Carolina’s top wide receiver since the Panthers drafted him in the first round in 2018. He has caught 364 passes for 5,201 yards with 21 touchdowns in five seasons. The Panthers wanted to get the deal done before free agency because they wanted to know how much salary-cap space they would have to work with. 

By trading Moore, the Panthers will free up $10 million under the cap. The departure of Moore leaves the Panthers with a gaping hole at wide receiver, but the team still has a high second-round pick (No. 39 overall) and could also look to address that position in free agency. 

Terrace Marshall Jr., a former second-round pick, is Carolina’s top remaining receiver. He had 28 receptions for 490 yards and one touchdown last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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