When the Chicago Bears wound up with the number-one overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft, it likely felt like both a quandary and an opportunity. Sometimes an embarrassment of wealth can seem that way.
The only position that had the proper talent that would warrant being selected first was a quarterback. However, the Bears were already set at that position with emerging star Justin Fields under center. His combination of explosive running and timely passing makes him a deadly, dual threat.
Chicago general manager Ryan Poles reiterated on several occasions that, in his mind, Fields would remain his guy. The big GM even said previously he would have to be “absolutely blown away” to even mildly consider trading his QB1 in order to take an amazing amateur with the top selection.
Fields had an astronomical second season that saw him complete 60.4% of his passes for 2242 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. On the ground, he added 1143 yards and an additional eight scores.
The Bears (3-14, last in the NFC North in 2022) had been dangling a deal for the top spot for quite a while.
The NFL’s spinning quarterback carousel is likely what facilitated this trade getting done.
It’s probably not coincidental that the Panthers, who need a new starting signal-caller, have watched as Derek Carr sign with the New Orleans Saints. And as far as Aaron Rodgers is concerned, it appears he’s either going to be a Packer, a Jet… or just plain retired.
With some of the top options starting to come off the table, Carolina decided to pull the trigger on a huge deal with the Monsters of the Midway.
While there are still more arms available in free agency (like Jimmy Garoppolo and Carson Wentz), there’s also an awful lot of intrigue right now in finding a fresh face.
Now? The Panthers are the team that’s officially on the clock.
Chicago will receive Carolina’s first and second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft (9th and 61st overall), along with their 2024 first-round pick, 2025 second-rounder, and star wide receiver D.J. Moore. It’s a chance for the Bears to add talent and depth.
And the acquisition of a playmaker gives Justin Fields the type of pass catcher who can match his awesome athleticism. The pairing could potentially spearhead a high-octane offense in Chi-Town.
For the Panthers, it’s an opportunity to draft their next franchise quarterback, which will likely either be Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. A dark horse choice could also be Anthony Richardson of Florida, who wowed scouts with his moves and measurables at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week.
Carolina (7-10) has not possessed the first pick in the NFL Draft since 2011. That year, they selected Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, the quarterback who led Auburn University to a National Championship that season.