Reviewing blockbuster Bears-Panthers trade ahead of Thursday Night Football

Reviewing blockbuster Bears-Panthers trade ahead of Thursday Night Football originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

With the Bears and Panthers set to square off on Thursday Night Football, it’s as good a time as ever to revisit their blockbuster trade from earlier this year. Back in March, the Bears sent the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft to Carolina in exchange for DJ Moore, the No. 9 pick in the 2023 draft, the No. 61 pick, plus a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick.

The Panthers used the No. 1 pick to select Bryce Young. The Bears ended up sending the No. 9 pick to the Eagles in exchange for No. 10 and a 2024 fourth-rounder. Then they used that 10th-overall pick to select Darnell Wright. Finally, GM Ryan Poles traded away both the No. 61 pick and a fifth-rounder to the Jaguars to move up six spots in the second round to draft Tyrique Stevenson.

Here’s a lil table to make things a little more clear:


BRYCE YOUNG                                          DJ MOORE






“It’s a lot,” said fellow cornerback Jaylon Johnson about the impact Moore, Wright and Stevenson have made on the team already.

The Bears haven’t always found ways to get Moore the ball consistently, but he’s looked every bit the bonafide WR1 the team has lacked for several seasons. Moore can beat defenses in a variety of ways, from precise route-running to coming down with contested catches. He’s a guy who commands targets when he draws one-on-one coverage and helps the quarterback, whether the QB is Justin Fields or Tyson Bagent. Further, his penchant for churning out extra yards after the catch makes him a threat to turn short passes into chunk gains or scores. That explosive prowess is essential in today’s NFL.

“It's played out well,” said Moore. “I don't have no hard feelings about being here. I'm loving it here. We're going to get this thing turned around and that's going to be the best of it.”

Wright and Stevenson have each had ups and downs over the first half of their rookie campaigns, as expected for any first-year offensive tackle or cornerback. Those are two of the hardest positions to play coming out of college so any struggles they’ve had are understandable.

Wright’s 8.5% pressure rate in pass pro is third-worst among Bears offensive linemen, but he’s been one of the team’s best run blockers. Recently, he and Teven Jenkins have become a force to clear lanes for running backs on the right side. The team is extremely high on his upside.

The same can be said for Stevenson. He’s been targeted a whopping 66 times this season, in part because he’s a rookie and in part because Jaylon Johnson has been so good on the other side of the field. Stevenson has given up a team-high seven touchdowns. But his 74.2% completion rate allowed is only fifth-worst on the team among DBs with 50 coverage snaps, and his 11% forced incompletion rate is fourth-best. The team loves his ability to rebound on a snap-to-snap basis, like how he bounced back to stop Davante Adams in key moments against the Raiders. They’ve seen growth in his ability to limit explosive passes, too.

“Every pick isn’t guaranteed to pan out, so to get good, quality guys from those picks and to get a high-level player in DJ and see it all pay off, it’s the highest reward,” said Johnson.

On the other hand, Young has struggled all year for the Panthers. His 77.1 QBR ranks 35th among all QBs who have thrown at least 50 passes. He’s got eight touchdowns and nine turnovers on the year. That’s not to say Young can’t develop into a legit NFL starter some day. QBs find success after tough rookie years all the time. But this year, it has not been good for Carolina.

Of course, the Bears could have ended up with C.J. Stroud instead of Young, and Stroud has enjoyed a phenomenal start to his career. His 2,270 passing yards rank seventh in the league and his 8.1 yards/attempt average is third. Most impressive is his 14:1 TD:INT ratio. But Stroud’s success in Houston doesn’t mean he’d enjoy the same success in Chicago. It took time for the Bears to find their offensive identity this year. It also took time for the team to figure out how to build a gameplan to Fields’ strengths. The same thing could have happened with Stroud.

It’s also important to keep in mind that back in 2023 the Bears had an incomplete evaluation of Fields. They still have an incomplete evaluation of Fields. He has tantalizing talent, both with his arm and his legs. It would be awful if the team let Fields walk for a shot at another young QB, only for Fields to have an incredible career elsewhere. The Bears needed to see what he could do with a better roster, and another year in Luke Getsy’s offense, before moving on to someone else– especially when you consider the loaded QB class in 2024.

“Normally you want to keep that No. 1 pick if you really want to take that quarterback, that franchise guy,” Johnson said. “I think at the time it was one of those moments where everybody was– everybody is all-in on Justin. The move was really a no-brainer.”

There are fair critiques of Poles’ short tenure leading the Bears, like his decision to spend a third-round pick on Velus Jones Jr. or his big investments in the linebacker corps. However his decision to trade away the No. 1 pick looks like a big win eight months later.

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