When the Carolina Panthers made the bold move of the NFL offseason by trading up for the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the trade impacted many teams and several players, namely, receiver DJ Moore. Moore spent his entire career with the Panthers organization, becoming the alpha receiver in the Carolina passing attack.
The thought heading into the offseason was how Carolina would add pieces around Moore to balance their offense. Would the Panthers add a secondary receiving option to complement Moore’s skill set? With one trade, that theory shattered. Carolina moved up for its franchise QB, and Moore was off to the Windy City.
Moore was the one reliable piece of the Panthers’ offense. With his departure, the Carolina offense was devoid of talent — not the environment teams want to groom a young passer in. Let’s look back at why Carolina dealt its top pass catcher.
Why Did Carolina Trade DJ Moore?
The former Panthers receiver was as surprised as anyone when he learned of the news that he was traded from the only franchise he ever played for, Carolina, to the Chicago Bears. Moore detailed how he learned of the transaction.
“I learned about it through a phone call with the Panthers,” Moore said. “I was going to pick up packages, and coming down my driveway, I got the call from the Panthers saying that I’ve been traded along with a bunch of picks.”
Understandably shocked, as many of us were, Moore looked towards the future with the Bears’ organization.
“I was really just like, whatever. Like, let’s go,” he continued. “At that point, it was just like, we want to start somewhere new, and that put a chip on my shoulder because we got to go somewhere new. But other than that, I was just like, alright. They wanted to move up and get rid of me, so I’m going to go somewhere where I’m loved.”
To be fair to the Panthers, they did not want to trade their talented receiver. However, when you are trading for the most valuable pick in the draft — and potentially franchise-altering QBs — the price of admission is high. The Panthers were desperate for a franchise QB after failing previously to acquire one.
The Bears sensed it and pounced. Chicago traded the first pick for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and Moore.
Will Carolina Regret Trading Moore?
A player with the talent of Moore would have been perfect to help a young QB. Unfortunately for the Carolina faithful, they had to deal with its top offensive weapon to push the deal across the finish line. The Panthers attempted to replace Moore with veteran free agent receiver Adam Thielen and second-round rookie selection Jonathan Mingo.
Thielen has more than lived up to his side of the bargain as the veteran option for Young to lean on. Many NFL Draft pundits viewed Mingo as a project coming out in the draft, so it should not be a surprise to see some initial struggles in the rookie’s game.
The issue at hand is neither player has the dynamic playmaking ability of Moore.
Thielen is long in the tooth, and by the time Young and the Panthers’ offense are ready to take flight, it’s hard to imagine Thielen being viable. Carolina needs to find a legit star receiver for Young to bond with, but they don’t have the draft capital to select one since they dealt a boatload of picks to the Bears to acquire Young.
Again, if Young becomes a high-caliber NFL starting QB capable of leading the Panthers’ organization for many years, the trade will be worth it. Until then, while the rookie is on shaky ground, the trade appears to be a disaster for Carolina.