D.J. Moore seems to have been the key for the Bears to feel comfortable trading away the No. 1 pick in the draft. For months, fans and pundits alike debated whether or not Ryan Poles would trade down in the draft, and if he did, how far he would go. The consensus seemed to be the Bears would be best-served by staying in the top-five to lock up one of the best incoming rookies, but it wouldn’t be terrible if Poles traded all the way down to No. 7 with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Panthers at No. 9 were viewed as a longshot.
And yet, it was the Panthers who emerged as the Bears’ dance partner. Poles addressed the media for the first time since the blockbuster deal on Thursday, and expressed his excitement for how things shook out, and why Moore was such an important part of the deal.
“To add capital this year in the draft as well as the future and set ourselves up with two ones in '24, I couldn't be happier about that,” Poles said. “But then when you add a player like DJ Moore, who can help us right now get better, continue to add weapons on our team. I was over the moon about that.”
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The Bears have searched for a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver to help Justin Fields for some time now. Initially, they thought Darnell Mooney could be the guy, but the early stages of the 2022 season showed the team needed to add to the position. Poles tried again by trading away a second-round pick for Chase Claypool midseason. But just when Claypool and Fields seemed to be developing chemistry on the field, Claypool got hurt and their development together was derailed. The 2023 free agent class was underwhelming, with names like JuJu Smith-Schuster and D.J. Chark headlining. There are intriguing options in the draft, but with so many holes on the roster they can use those picks to address other areas like offensive line or defensive line. Taking a look at the entire landscape, adding Moore via trade suddenly seems like one of the best options for the Bears since they’re able to tick two boxes at once: add a dynamite wide receiver and add a significant amount of draft capital at the same time.
Moore has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL over his five-year career, despite having a revolving door of sub-par QBs throwing him passes. Since 2018 when he entered the league, Moore has caught 364 balls for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns, with guys like Kyle Allen, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewather under center. That’s impressive, and leads to the belief Moore could be even better with Fields.
“I think this league shows you good teams have guys that make big plays in big moments,” Poles said. That’s finishing a game off in the fourth quarter or if that’s getting things kicked off in the beginning. DJ has those traits, and we’re excited to have him.”
The Bears aren’t just excited to acquire Moore the player, they’re also excited to acquire more the person.
“He fits our culture and what we're trying to do and keeps that room and our team and our locker room in a really good place,” Poles said.
When big trades like this happen, people like to hyperfocus on the draft capital. It’s understandable. It’s fun to dream about the endless possibilities of a draft pick. That pick could be a franchise left tackle, or a fearsome pass rusher. That pick represents hope. But if Moore is player the Bears think he can be in Chicago, there’s a good chance he’ll be the most important piece in the haul that Poles received for the No. 1 pick.