A trade that the NFL community had been eagerly awaiting went down late Friday afternoon. (No, not an announcement from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers …)
Chicago did the expected, offloading the No. 1 pick of the 2023 draft, and accruing from Carolina, according to multiple reports, the No. 9 pick and a second-rounder this year (No. 61 overall), a first- and second-rounder in 2024 and Pro Bowl-caliber WR DJ Moore.
The move will certainly have massive ramifications on the draft and, perhaps, the quarterback market at large – not to mention free agency, which officially kicks off next week.
Here’s a look at who stands to gain … and who doesn’t:
Carolina Panthers: They’ve been in search of a franchise quarterback since Cam Newton was in his prime. Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t the answer. Sam Darnold wasn’t the answer. Baker Mayfield wasn’t the answer. Deshaun Watson didn’t come. But now, at significant cost, a new era. GM Scott Fitterer and new coach Frank Reich will have their choice among highly regarded draft prospects like Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
Chicago Bears: A team that ended the 2022 season with what was arguably the worst overall roster in the league – and almost definitely in the NFC – suddenly has a new lease on life, coupling its newfound draft capital with copious salary cap space.
Justin Fields: In his second NFL season, the young quarterback effectively served as a one-man offense in the Windy City, passing for 2,242 yards and 17 TDs and rushing for 1,143 yards and eight scores. He’s now got Moore to throw to with what should be premium reinforcements in tow in what could now be a very quick rebuild centered around Fields’ estimable talent.
Lamar Jackson: With the Panthers and Houston Texans, who own the second overall selection, almost certainly locked in on quarterbacks atop the draft, the Baltimore Ravens’ franchised superstar may suddenly find a market develop despite reports that several teams would not engage him in negotiations after he was tagged Tuesday. But it certainly appears the QB supply-demand pendulum could be swinging in his favor.
Aaron Rodgers: Seems his flirtation with the New York Jets is getting down the road quickly. But who’s to say Friday’s news won’t entice another team to make a run at him?
NFL FREE AGENCY 2023:Ranking top 23* available players as market prepares to open
Geno Smith: The newly re-signed Seattle Seahawks quarterback gets just a little bit more security with his team, which drafts fifth overall, now apparently further removed from the leading passing prospects as the top of the board coalesces. Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider now have an even better shot at obtaining one of the draft’s best overall prospects, namely Alabama DE/OLB Will Anderson or even (still) Georgia DT Jalen Carter, and either would indirectly benefit Smith.
Indianapolis Colts: With the Panthers and division rival Texans ahead of them, Indy is now basically looking at taking the quarterback rated third or fourth on GM Chris Ballard’s draft board. And the Colts may yet have to climb from the No. 4 spot to get the third pick from the Arizona Cardinals in order to ensure they get the guy they’re most comfortable with after years of treading water with veterans who never managed to truly fill the breach following Andrew Luck’s stunning 2019 retirement.
Las Vegas Raiders: HC Josh McDaniels expressed a desire at the scouting combine to find a long-term answer under center following the team’s release of Derek Carr last month. But the Silver and Black, who choose seventh overall next month, now find themselves in an even more precarious position than the Colts as it pertains to drafting a quarterback this year.
Atlanta Falcons: Ditto the Colts and Raiders – except ATL selects eighth. Barring a big move up to Arizona’s spot, they’ll have to hope 2022 third-rounder Desmond Ridder really blossoms … or reconsider their supposed reluctance to make a run at Jackson even though they certainly have the cap space to do so, not to mention those seats that need filling in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Chase Claypool: The young receiver did little to distinguish himself (14 catches in seven games) in Chicago after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers at last year’s trade deadline in a move that already has aged poorly from the Bears’ perspective, given Pittsburgh ultimately netted the 32nd overall pick. With Moore coming aboard – he’s not only a better wideout than Claypool, he’s also under contract through 2025 – the former Notre Dame standout isn’t likely to be Fields’ primary option in 2023 … which will consequently make it harder for him to broker a big payday in free agency a year from now.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.