Bears GM Ryan Poles details trading No. 1 pick: Panthers 'wanted to control the draft'

The Chicago Bears made a blockbuster trade last month, shipping the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina in a move that restructured the tenor of the 2023 NFL Draft.

In exchange for the top selection, the Bears received the No. 9 overall pick, a 2023 second-rounder, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round selection and star receiver D.J. Moore. The haul was enough to get Bears general manager Ryan Poles to green-light the deal well before the draft.

On Wednesday, the Bears released a behind-the-scenes look at the deal on a new episode of their 1920 Football Drive series.

"I knew from the jump that they were a team that really wanted their quarterback," Poles said of the Panthers. "They wanted to control the draft. That meant a lot to them. They got in front early, at the combine. I had a good relationship with their general manager, Scott Fitterer, and felt like at that time it was best to close on the deal when we did, instead of dragging it out."

Poles' comments made it clear that plenty of clubs were in contention to trade up to the No. 1 spot before the Panthers made an offer he couldn't refuse.

"It was calm and cool for a while, and then it turned into pretty much pacing all day long," Poles said. "It's so fluid. It shifts and changes all the time when you're talking with different teams. Some teams are super aggressive. Some are playing in the gray, and you kind of have to read between the lines."

Given the interest in the pick, Poles could have slow-played the process, trying to get more value from a potential partner. But getting the deal done before free agency had its value, specifically after acquiring Moore, which allowed the Bears to use their cap space at other positions.

It's clear from the Bears' new video and previous comments that Moore's inclusion in the deal was the closer. Without that premier player, the pick would have likely landed elsewhere.

"So, felt comfortable moving forward with Scott and Carolina," Poles said. "It helped us today with D.J. Moore, but also down the road with future draft picks."

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