Carolina Panthers acquire No. 1 pick in NFL Draft in deal with Bears

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Friday, March 10, 2023
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Carolina Panthers will have the No. 1 pick in this year's NFL Draft after striking a blockbuster deal with the Chicago Bears.

ESPN reported Friday that the Panthers will send wide receiver DJ Moore, the Panthers' first-round pick, No. 9 overall, the 61st pick, another first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025 to the Bears for the top spot.

The Panthers are expected to use the top pick to target a franchise quarterback. If they go that route, Alabama's Bryce Young is widely regarded as the top QB prospect in this year's draft class.

Talks for the No. 1 pick had intensified since last week's NFL scouting combine, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter, with multiple teams, including the Houston Texans, also expressing interest in making a deal with Chicago.

Adding Moore to a thin receiving corps was Chicago's best chance to bring in a No. 1 receiver given the lack of depth at that position in free agency and the draft. Moore put together three 1,000-yard seasons (2019-21) and had a career-high 7 touchdowns in 2022.

The Panthers now have the top pick of the draft for the first time since 2011 when they selected quarterback Cam Newton.

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.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer 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.''

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 Young, Levis, and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud at the combine.

"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 (20) at the time, It's not an act. It's like who he is. It's ingrained in him.''

ESPN's David Newton contributed to this report.