The Chicago Bears have finally decided who will be the trade recipient of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft and are going to be getting a new No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Justin Fields in the deal.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears have agreed to terms on a trade that will send the No. 1 pick to the Panthers in exchange for their 2023 first-round pick (No. 9 overall), one of their two second-round picks (No. 61), a 2024 first-round selection, a 2025 second-round selection and star wide receiver D.J. Moore.
It only took a matter of minutes before Moore was reacting to the blockbuster news:
Moore adds a verified No. 1 receiver to the mix for the Bears after he averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his five seasons with the Panthers. He is also only 25 years old — his 26th birthday is next month — and will be under contract for the next three seasons due to the extension he signed with the Panthers back in March 2022.
Chase Claypool — another receiver whom the Bears traded to acquire — was also quick to share his excited reaction to the news of Moore’s arrival.
D.J. Moore Gives Bears Much-Needed Playmaker at WR
Bears general manager Ryan Poles was roasted coming into his first season in charge for not doing enough to acquire receiving weapons for Fields, but it seems like he is doing all he can to ensure his quarterback is set up to take a leap in 2023.
It is no stretch to say Moore is the best wide receiver the Bears have had on their roster since Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the mid-2010s. Even Allen Robinson, their former No. 1 receiver, didn’t put up numbers quite like Moore has in his first five years. He has averaged 14.3 yards on 364 career receptions despite the Panthers consistently giving him average-to-low-quality quarterback play in that time.
According to Pro Football Focus, Moore was also an elite-graded pass-catcher on deep and intermediate routes inside and outside of the numbers in 2022. His effectiveness is still perfectly fine on the short-distance routes that he could be asked to run regularly in Chicago, but he should be the most reliable option for Fields when he looks downfield.
The Bears have to love the contract they are getting with Moore, too. According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, the cost for Moore will work out to be about $17.42 million per season for the next three years — or a total of about $52.26 million. There is also an out for Chicago in Moore’s contract after the 2023 season, in which they could move on from him — if the decision horribly backfired — and only be on the hook for about $1.1 million in 2024 and 2025.
Put simply, the Bears are in a fantastic situation even if Moore somehow doesn’t live up to their expectations in 2023, which seems pretty unlikely at this point.
Bears Benefit From Getting D.J. Moore Before Free Agency
The Bears most likely could have waited to trade the No. 1 overall pick until somewhere between the start of free agency and the first night of the 2023 NFL draft. Ultimately, though, they pulled the trigger on a deal that got them a playmaking wide receiver before the start of free agency and can now move forward with Moore locked in.
One thing the Moore trade signals is the Bears will most likely not make a high-level investment in a wide receiver in free agency. Once the trade becomes official at the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on March 15, they will have a solid trio of starting receivers in Moore, Claypool and Darnell Mooney with Equanimeous St. Brown and 2022 third-rounder Velus Jones Jr. in place as their backups. Maybe there is room to add one more free agent to the books for the sake of depth, but any receiver additions at this point seem most likely to occur during the draft itself.
The Bears will now also be able to put their primary focus on their offensive line and defense in free agency. Instead of trying to figure out how to sign a Jakobi Meyers or an Allen Lazard to a richer-than-necessary contract, they can go all-in on some of their favorite veterans at positions of need. They might even take the opportunity to round out the offense with a fresh running back signing to pair with Khalil Herbert — or simply re-sign David Montgomery to a contract extension for next season.
Either way, Poles’ path to building up the Bears is clearer with Moore secured.