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Reports: Panthers trade for top pick in 2023 NFL Draft


CHARLOTTE — The Panthers couldn't assure themselves a rookie quarterback in the first round, not while picking ninth overall.

That's why they're no longer picking ninth.

The Panthers are close to making a bold move to trade up to the top overall pick in this year's draft thanks to a deal with the Chicago Bears Friday.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers will send the Bears the ninth overall pick in this year's draft, the late second-rounder acquired from the 49ers (61st overall), along with next year's first-round pick, a 2025 second-rounder, and wide receiver DJ Moore to get to the No. 1 overall choice in this year's draft. The deal won't be official until the start of the league year next Wednesday.

While that's a significant haul for the Bears, it's also the cost of doing business to acquire a top rookie quarterback, something the Panthers were obviously determined to do.

"You go get the guy that you want, you know," general manager Scott Fitterer said at the combine about potentially trading up for a quarterback. "If you have a 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. When you do that, you're all in."

The move assures them of one of the group of top four passers in this year's draft — Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's CJ Stroud, Kentucky's Will Levis, or Florida's Anthony Richardson. That wasn't anything they could have been sure of if they had stayed at No. 9.

It also gives them some certainty heading into the start of free agency next week, knowing they can build a plan around a drafted rookie quarterback rather than having to acquire a different grade of a veteran starter. They had talks with former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, but he signed a four-year deal with the Saints.

The only quarterbacks on the Panthers roster at the moment are Matt Corral and Jacob Eason.

With some degree of certainty about being able to draft one now, the Panthers can view the free agents differently. Quarterbacks available next week in free agency include Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, Jacoby Brissett, and others.

Here's a look at some of the top quarterbacks in this year's class, including Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis.

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