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The Carolina Panthers are trading for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

The team is going all in on a quarterback in Frank Reich’s first season

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are reportedly trading a large compensation package to the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The package is said to include multiple first-round picks and wide receiver DJ Moore. We say reportedly because the deal won’t be official until the start of the league year on Wednesday of next week.

The Why

After years of lurching from has-been to never-were quarterbacks, David Tepper made quarterback development a priority when building a new coaching staff this off season. The result was a who’s who of big name quarterback whisperers and assistants they trust. Frank Reich, Jim Caldwell, and Josh McCown were hired to create the next great Panthers quarterback, and now they’ve been given their choice of rookies in the 2023 NFL Draft to do just that.

General manager Scott Fitterer has never met a trade he didn’t at least flirt with, but this is easily the biggest move he’s made in his two-year tenure as the team’s general manager. It may also be his last if the team makes a poor bet on their quarterback of the future. The GM job is a high-risk job anywhere, though, and Fitterer’s seat was going to get hot if the Panthers didn’t improve at quarterback this year. The logic here is clear: If he might be going home anyway, then the team might as well swing big.

The Cost

While the loss of DJ Moore will certainly harden the landing of anyone coming with the Panthers, the team did manage to walk away from this trade with a relatively full slate of draft picks intact for each of the next three years. They still have three picks in the top 100 in 2023, their second-round pick in 2024, and their first-round pick in 2025.

Rarely has a team been able to trade up to the first overall pick (let alone from all the way back at No. 9) without giving up multiple additional first-round picks. That shows how highly Chicago valued pairing a true number one receiver, like Moore, with Justin Fields. Panthers fans can only hope that it also shows just how much the new coaching staff believes in Terrace Marshall Jr. or a second-round draft pick.

Moore really is the cost of this trade, and it stings as a fan. He was the biggest, most positive name and face left on the offense. This is the NFL, so you if you can trade a wide receiver for a starting quarterback you do that every time the offer comes up. But that doesn’t mean fans aren’t going to hold a grudge if the quarterback the Panthers end up picking bombs.

What’s next?

Well, now the Carolina Panthers are on the clock for the 2023 NFL Draft. All eyes are on Charlotte to see which quarterback domino is the first to fall in a draft that is just about as full of prospects as it is of needy teams.