Bears Trade Top Pick to Panthers

In a huge trade, the Bears have agreed to trade the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Panthers for the Panthers first round pick in 2023 and 2024, their 2nd round pick in 2023, and a 2nd round pick in 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore.

Even without including Moore this is a big trade for the Bears. Using average future expectations for the draft selections Chicago will gain 4,940 points while the Panthers gain 3,000 points in our Fitzgerald-Spielberger model. That is essentially the value of adding the 8th pick in the NFL draft. In addition they are also adding a receiver in Moore who is valued as a $20 million receiver.

If the Bears had no intentions of picking a quarterback with the top pick this type of trade is a no brainer to make. By adding the 2024 1st rounder of a team who will be starting a rookie QB and has, on paper, a weak roster the Bears put themselves in a great position to land a higher than average pick next season. If things do go south with Justin Fields that would give them the ammunition to potentially grab a QB next year if needed. If Fields works out they will be in great shape to build around him.

This is an understandable trade for the Panthers who have desperately been searching for a QB for years. If there was no QB available at number 9, then the top pick is priceless. When we turn the model from points into projected contract values for players the trade is perfectly in balance from the Panther’s perspective. The Panther gain a projected $46.5M in APY for the top QB in the draft. They average that they give up for a blind pick at each selection is about $30M in value. Throw in the Moore contract and it brings it to about $50.5M in value given up. Even if we assume premium position picks at each spot it is a total loss of about $11M in APY.

I would consider even that loss very fair because Moore no longer had $20 million in value to Carolina. That seemed to be a buyers (and maybe even sellers) remorse right away. Odds are Moore’s best remaining years would be wasted on the QB’s rookie season while hoping things clicked in year two. By trading him away the Panthers also put themselves in a much better salary cap position. They will take on $14.625 million in dead money this year for Moore, which is a savings of $10.415 million. They completely clear $20.9 million in cap charges in each of the next two seasons as well. Had Moore played this year and was traded next year the team would have to account for a total of $34.79 million rather than the $14.625 million they have now. That is a significant improvement.

Moore is a better fit in Chicago, who was desperate for receiver help in a year where there are not many free agent options. Fields should be entering his prime years to match up with Moore’s and the effective APY for Chicago for Moore is just $17.422 million, which is less than the top WR was paid in free agency last season (Christian Kirk at $18M). Moore has a negligible guarantee in 2024 so there is no cost involved if things do not work out. With Moore taking the top spot in the rotation it should also give the Bears some leverage in any contract discussions with Chase Claypool who they traded a 2nd round pick for last season. Moore will count for $20.165 million on the cap this year and $16.05 million in 2024 and 2025.

Ultimately I think is a trade where both sides can claim they won and both are probably right given what their specific needs were. The Panthers found a way to make a trade for the top pick without having to give up the three 1st rounders and instead using an asset they probably did not need. Chicago gets immediate help while also maximizing who they can add in the draft over the next two or three years. Both sides should be excited for what the trade can bring.