Once the regular season ended and the Chicago Bears had the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, there was strong belief that the Bears were going to trade down to gain more capital.
And that's exactly what Ryan Poles did with the Carolina Panthers.
In exchange for the No. 1 pick in 2023, the Chicago Bears receive the No. 9 pick, No. 61 pick, a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025, and 25-year-old wide receiver D.J Moore from the Carolina Panthers. This trade might be the trade that brings the Chicago Bears from mediocrity to relevancy in a hurry. The Bears needed all the help they could get, and the Carolina Panthers gave them just that-- and Moore. Get it? Because ... D.J. Moore.
It would've been nice for the Chicago Bears to get a player like Will Anderson or someone in the top 5, however, to get a top 10 pick, as well as a second rounder, a first next year, a second in two years, and a true No.1 receiver is a move winning teams make. Ryan Poles had some question marks around him, as the Chase Claypool trade was seen as a poor decision by the young general manager.
Now, however, Ryan Poles has cemented himself as the most beloved man in Chicago-- as long as the Bears don't mess up their draft. That's certainly possible, but other than Velus Jones, there weren't many hiccups by Poles in his first draft as the general manager of the Chicago Bears.
The Bears still have a free agency period in which they have about $100-million to spend on free agents. That money will likely be spent in the trenches for the most part. Whether on the offensive side or defensive side of the ball, there is a clear need for the Chicago Bears to upgrade their big boys. On both lines, offensive and defensive, there's a need to get better.
The Future of the Chicago Bears Looks Bright
Not only do the Chicago Bears have approximately $100-million in spending money this off season, but they now have a first-round pick next season outside their own and a starting No. 1 receiver. For a team that's been less busy in the first round than some teams-- due to the Khalil Mack trade in 2018-- things are turning around since Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus took over.
The Carolina Panthers, however, have a lot of work to do to become a competitive team in the NFC, and that quest is now even more difficult, as their presumed first-pick quarterback won't have much to throw to. Whether it's C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, or Anthony Richardson, the new quarterback in Carolina will have their fair share of struggles. On top of that, the Panthers no longer have Christian McCaffrey to rely on, so their offense will really have some struggles.
Because of that, the first-round pick the Panthers sent to Chicago in 2024 could end up being a top 5 or top 10 pick.
Highest graded WR on contested targets last season:
? Marvin Harrison Jr - 94.1 pic.twitter.com/8cBnr7OeVo
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 5, 2023
If that's the case, the Chicago Bears could be adding a Marvin Harrison Jr. to their offense to pair with Justin Fields. And if they don't draft Marvin Harrison Jr., they're still likely to be the owners of a higher-end pick in 2024, as well as the pick they have themselves. For the past handful of decades, it hasn't been fun for Chicago Bears fans to root for their team, but that tide is changing.
This is the start to their Championship DVD. Mark it now, Chicago. Soon-- oh, so very soon-- the Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
And it all started on the night Ryan Poles gained partial ownership of the Carolina Panthers by getting an absolute haul for the No. 1 pick in a draft where there's really not a clear-cut No. 1 pick. However, the biggest news isn't even really about the first-round picks.
The Chicago Bears Officially Prove they Trust Justin Fields
In this journey of the No. 1 pick and this monumental off season, there was a glooming possibility that kept rearing its ugly head around the corner for Bears fans.
And that possibility was that Justin Fields would be traded, and the Bears would draft one of the top quarterbacks in this draft to replace him.
The rumor didn't have all that much credibility to it, as Justin Fields-- if he were in this draft-- would be the clear No. 1 pick, without doubt. There was the slightest possibility that this trade could happen because, technically, Justin Fields isn't the guy who Ryan Poles or Matt Eberflus drafted. When the two inherited this team, Justin Fields was already attached to it, so that always caused reason for internet pot-stirrers to make claims that Justin Fields was on the chopping block.
Now, however, it's both clear that Justin Fields is the Bears' guy moving forward, and the Bears are willing to build around Fields on offense. That was another criticism of Ryan Poles in his first year, is that he didn't "surround Justin Fields with talent," which is both true and false. Poles drafted defensively in the first two picks of last year's draft, and their only real contribution in the draft to put weapons around Justin Fields was a 25-year-old rookie in Velus Jones.
Should the Bears trade Justin Fields and take a QB at #1? pic.twitter.com/r7gQISDUuQ
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) February 21, 2023
So, there was some truth to maybe Justin Fields wasn't "their guy". But, the Bears weren't an offensive weapon away from being great. The selections on defense were necessary, and they indirectly help Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. And while Justin Fields left Bears fans in awe with his legs, there was a clear difference in his ability to perform well with his legs versus his arm.
Part of that equation was the lack of weapons around Fields, but another part of it was Fields was learning, yet, another offense in a team lacking weapons. So, not only was he behind a poor offensive line with a lack of weapons, but he wasn't a polished NFL quarterback coming out of college.
Rarely are rookies quarterbacks able to come into the league, especially nowadays, and light it up from the start. And Justin Fields wasn't a perfect rookie, nor was he a perfect second-year quarterback. But what can be said is there was vast improvement from Justin Fields his rookie season to Justin Fields his second season. With D.J. Moore alongside Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, and Cole Kmet, there's less of a case to be made that Fields doesn't have weapons. This is before free agency and the draft, too, where the Chicago Bears could certainly add another playmaker or two.
So, all things considered, this was just about as perfect of a move as the Chicago Bears could've made in the position they were in.
From all Bears fans to Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears' front office: Thank you!
MORE: How the Mitch Trubisky Trade Became One of the Most Puzzling Moves in Draft Day History
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