There could potentially be a second trade for the No. 1 overall pick.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Joe Person, who covers the Panthers, they could trade down from the top spot in the draft — which they acquired from the Bears on Friday — “if they end up liking” more than one quarterback.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter echoed Person’s report.
The Panthers will decide between Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis, Person later wrote.
After weeks of speculation surrounding whether the Bears would keep the No. 1 pick or trade it, they finalized a deal with Carolina that featured a return of picks No. 9 and No. 61 in the 2023 NFL Draft, a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025 and wideout D.J. Moore, according to ESPN.
It marked the 13th time the No. 1 overall pick had been traded in NFL history, according to ESPN, and the first instance since 2016, when the Rams traded up and selected Jared Goff.
Four of the previous 12 trades involving the top pick ended with a quarterback drafted, and if the Panthers keep the selection, that number would likely increase to five.
Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler reported the same strategy as The Athletic, citing an anonymous Panthers source who said, “We control it now” in regards to the top of the draft board.
The Panthers, led by head coach Frank Reich and his new staff, now need to piece together a group of skill position players surrounding their new quarterback, with Moore — their best wideout — traded just months after star running back Christian McCaffrey was dealt to the 49ers.
Still, the franchise has key pieces in place after narrowly missing the postseason — and an NFC South title — last year, despite firing head coach Matt Rhule mid-season and trading McCaffrey.
Interim head coach Steve Wilks guided the Panthers to a 7-10 record with a mix of P.J. Walker, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold at quarterback, and running back D’Onta Foreman emerged as the top option in its backfield with 914 yards and five touchdowns.
And with the trade, the Bears continued to build around 24-year-old quarterback Justin Fields, who just completed his second NFL season.
Fields rushed for 1,143 yards, eight touchdowns and a 7.1 yards-per-carry average while also adding another 17 passing touchdowns in 2022.