Schrock: Moore can make Bears’ fleecing of Panthers all-time heist originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Poles finally made his big move Friday when he traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for the No. 9 overall pick, No. 61, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and wide receiver DJ Moore.
It was a fleecing in every sense of the word, with Moore being the critical component in what could be a transformative move for the Bears franchise.
If the Bears were going to trade the most-coveted asset in the NFL now instead of waiting to drive up the price, Moore had to be in the deal. The Bears insisted on his inclusion, and by putting Moore in the deal, the Panthers avoided giving up a first-round pick in 2025.
Getting the Panthers to throw Moore into the trade makes it a haul. The 25-year-old receiver can make this an unprecedented robbery by Poles.
In his last four seasons, Moore has 4,413 receiving yards, which ranks seventh among all NFL receivers. He also ranks 17th out of 84 in yards per route run. He put together three straight 1,100-yard seasons and never caught fewer than 55 balls in a season.
Moore did all this while catching passes from an aging Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, PJ Walker, Baker Mayfield, and Will Grier.
Now, he arrives in Chicago to become quarterback Justin Fields’ preferred weapon.
Moore is not an upper-echelon elite receiver. He doesn’t live in the Justin Jefferson-Tyreek Hill zip code. He’s a block over where the up-and-comers reside. Those preparing to upgrade their residency.
He has yet to enter his prime and now gets to play with a quarterback in Fields who throws a good deep ball and feasts in the intermediate areas of the field where Moore also makes his bread.
Should Moore be able to elevate his game to the next level, the Stefon Diggs level, the Bears will have pulled off an all-time heist. They will have secured a 25-year-old star receiver and three extra top-60 picks.
The move to get Moore was all about Fields. Poles could have asked for a 2025 first-round instead of Moore, but that wouldn’t help Fields develop as a passer which is the most critical component of the 2023 season.
Poles are excited about what Fields showed in 2022. The 24-year-old quarterback is one of the most electric playmakers in the NFL with the ball in his hands. A lot of work still needs to be done, though.
Fields has to progress as a passer in order to prove he’s a franchise guy. He needs protection and weapons to do that. Poles’ job this offseason, both in the draft and free agency, is to remove the excuses for Fields. Give him weapons, bolster the line, and see if he thrives. If he does, great. If he doesn’t, the Bears can move on, and they’ve set themselves up with a nice eject button if needed.
That’s the underrated part of including Moore in the deal.
By stripping the Panthers of their top wide receiver, the Bears ensure they have the first-round pick of a team next year that will be starting a rookie quarterback with one of the worst wide receiver rooms in the NFL.
Yes, the NFC South is wide-open, but Poles did everything he could to ensure the pick he receives is minted in gold.
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The inclusion of Moore is all about Fields. About helping him get better by giving him the elite weapon he has never had. It shows the Bears believe in him and that surrounding him with talent will help him reach his ceiling.
But it’s also about the position it puts the Panthers in, which sets the Bears up to be in another position of power next offseason.
Moore will either be the catalyst for a major leap by Fields next season or the top target for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye should Fields not meet the moment.
Either way, he’s the crown jewel of an NFL heist that might go down in history as an all-time gouging.
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