The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers pulled off one of the largest blockbuster trades in recent NFL history on Friday.
Originally slated to select No. 1 overall, Chicago has moved that pick to the Panthers for a ton of compensation as the Bears look to rebuild around stud quarterback Justin Fields.
The details of this blockbuster are absolutely eye opening. These two NFC rivals shook up the foundation of the 2023 NFL Draft as we know it, creating a ton of talking points over the next several weeks.
|Chicago Bears get||Carolina Panthers get|
|9th pick in 2023||1st pick in 2023|
|2nd-round pick in 2023 (61st overall)|
|1st-round pick in 2024|
|2nd-round pick in 2025|
As we analyze this deal, it’s important to check in on the biggest winners and losers. Teams don’t make blockbusters like this on a whim. It will change where both the Bears and Panthers are headed moving forward.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings
Winner: Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears general manager Ryan Poles made it clear with this blockbuster trade that they are all in when it comes to this young quarterback. There were rumors that Chicago might look to move off Fields and draft a quarterback No. 1 overall. Based on what he did last season as a sophomore, it just didn’t seem to make much sense.
- Justin Fields stats (2022): 60.4% completion, 2,242 passing yards, 1,143 rushing yards, 25 total TD, 11 INT
Fields was able to accomplish this with a talent-stricken wide receiver group. Darnell Mooney led Chicago Bears receivers with 40 catches for 493 yards in 2022. Equanimeous St. Brown (21 catches) was second. The Bears now add a still-young 25-year-old D.J. Moore who is averaging well north of 1,000 receiving yards throughout his five-year career. That’s a win for Mr. Fields.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Loser: Houston Texans hopes of landing QB1 in NFL Draft
There was some thought given to the idea that Houston would make a call to Chicago for the No. 1 pick. The idea would have been for general manager Nick Caserio to have his pick of the litter between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. Unfortunately, that has not come to fruition.
As we’ve seen over the years, it’s not great when quarterbacks go No. 1 and No. 2 overall. That’s especially true with the team selecting second. Just look at the most-recent No. 2 picks at quarterback when a player at the same position went first.
- 2021: Zach Wilson, New York Jets
- 2016: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
- 2015: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
- 2012: Robert Griffin III, Washington franchise
You have to go all the way back to 1999 when Donovan McNabb was selected No. 2 behind Tim Couch to find a real success story here. We now have to wonder whether Houston simply looks to trade down or go with another position at two.
Related: Updated 2023 NFL Draft order
Winner: Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles
Poles made it clear throughout the entire process that he was going to play this slowly. Everyone and their mother knew that Chicago was going to trade down from the first pick. Creating a bidding war made the most sense. He continued this process during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and knew that a bounty would be headed to the Windy City.
“Should we do this before free agency? Or should we wait? I don’t know. That’s what I’ve communicated [to teams].
I could carry this all the way until we’re on the clock the night of the draft. But then there’s teams that want some certainty because, ‘If I need a quarterback bad, should I do that now when some of these guys, like Derek Carr, are out there?’ To me, they’ve got to go so much more above to do it now. I’m not greedy with it. But they’re gonna have to go above and beyond to close the door now.”Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles on trade process
Boy, did he deliver. Selecting ninth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft and with an additional second-round pick, Chicago has a ton of avenues to upgrade a roster that lost 10 consecutive games to conclude last season.
In addition to this, Chicago has Carolina’s first-round pick next year and a second rounder in 2025. If the Panthers do indeed rely on a rookie next season, it’s safe to bet that the 2024 first rounder is going to be pretty high. Poles is a major winner here.
Loser: New Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback
Whether it’s Stroud or Young to Carolina later this spring, said quarterback will be facing an uphill climb. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. The Panthers just traded away their No. 1 wide receiver. As of right now, Terrace Marshall Jr. is the Panthers’ leading returning receiver. He caught 28 passes a season ago.
Unfortunately for Carolina, there’s not a ton of options available to the team in free agency. Without the draft capital, the Panthers will find it hard to pull off a trade for someone of substance. General manager Scott Fitterer has his work cut out for him to find the unnamed rookie quarterback more help. That’s for sure.
Related: Updated NFL Draft rumors
Winner: Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich
During his five-year run as the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach, Reich dealt with journeyman quarterback after journeyman quarterback. Following the retirement of Andrew Luck ahead of the 2019 season, that list included the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan.
Now in Carolina, Reich will have an ability to mold the mind of a young quarterback. It’s something that he wanted in Indianapolis. It just never came to fruition. Given how well he has worked with young signal callers throughout the former quarterback’s coaching career, we wouldn’t put it past him to have a ton of success here.