CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears are trading the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Bears will receive Carolina’s first round selection at No. 9, the 61st overall pick (late second round), a 2024 first round selection and a 2025 second-round pick, according to Schefter.
Talks for the No. 1 pick had intensified since last week’s NFL scouting combine, sources told Schefter, with multiple teams, including the Houston Texans, also expressing interest in making a deal with Chicago.
Last week at the NFL combine, Chicago general manager Ryan Poles confirmed the team’s desire to deal the No. 1 overall pick and expressed optimism that the Bears could find a trade partner ahead of free agency, a scenario he believed would benefit the franchise could garner a player in addition to draft picks.
“A clearer view of what we need and there’s scenarios where you could add players as well, potentially, which again, gives you some clarity on what you want to do in the draft and free agency,” Poles said.
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, meanwhile, left open the option of trading up from No. 9 during a recent interview at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
“You go get the guy that you want,” he said. “If you have conviction on a guy, you go get him. It’s pretty simple that way. If you don’t know and you’re going to give all these resources to go up and get it, you’re hurting your team in the long run. You better be right. You better have conviction if you do move up.
“But when you do that, you’re all-in.”
This will be the third time the Panthers have had the top pick. They had it in their first-ever season, 1995, but traded it to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the No. 5 pick and No. 36 in the second round. They selected quarterback Kerry Collins at No. 5.
They also had the top pick in 2011 and selected Auburn’s Cam Newton, who went on to win the 2015 MVP and lead Carolina to the Super Bowl.
Receiver is a major need for Chicago after Darnell Mooney finished with a team-high 493 receiving yards and two touchdowns despite missing the final five games of the season with injury. Prior to adding Moore, who put together three 1,000 yard seasons from 2019-21, the Bears only had Mooney, Chase Claypool, Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown under contract at the receiver position.
The Bears will inherit the remainder of the three-year contract extension Moore signed in March 2022. The wide receiver, who posted a career-high seven touchdowns last season, has a $19.965 million base salary for the 2023 season.
The move reaffirms the Bears continued support of quarterback Justin Fields, who is coming off his second NFL season where he finished 64 yards shy of the single-season quarterback rushing record. Poles has said throughout the offseason the the Bears plan is for Fields to remain the starting quarterback in 2023 despite the team doing its homework on the quarterbacks available in the draft.
“His athletic ability and ability to create explosive plays were special,” Poles said. “Now, what we’ve had discussions about, and I talked about it openly, like, he’s got to take the next step in his game and I’m excited to see that because I think he’s going to.”
Carolina has been looking for a franchise quarterback since Newton developed shoulder issues midway through the 2015 season. It moved on from Newton prior to the 2020 season and went with Teddy Bridgewater.
The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, the third pick of the 2018 draft, in 2021. They traded for Baker Mayfield, the top pick of the 2018 draft, prior to last season.
They recently were involved in discussions for former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who on Monday signed with NFC South rival New Orleans.
During those discussions at the combine team officials decided to remain focused on getting a quarterback in the draft.
They were high, according to league sources, on Kentucky’s Will Levis early last season. They were impressed with Levis, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud at the combine.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has Levis as his top-rated quarterback, but other analysts believe Young will be the first quarterback selected.
“The poise, the competitiveness, the ability to process and see the field,” Fitterer said of Young at the combine. “The guy never seems stressed when he’s in the pocket. And then you meet him in person and he’s just like chill. He’s a good guy. Nothing’s too big for him.
“I remember a couple of years ago at the Heisman Trophy presentation. My wife and I are sitting there watching him, my son. And he was so poised. I think he was  at the time, It’s not an act. It’s like who he is. It’s ingrained in him.”