The Chicago Bears are uncertain about their 2023 season, but they are slowly making progress. After a disappointing 0-4 start, they finally achieved their first victory against the Washington Football Team. With a more manageable schedule in the next three weeks, there’s a chance for the Bears to reach a .500 record and potentially make it to the playoffs. Surprisingly, their draft ambitions seem secure, as the Carolina Panthers currently hold the title of the only winless team in the league after five weeks.
Thanks to the recent D.J. Moore trade, the Bears now possess control over the coveted #1 overall pick in the 2024 draft and the potential rights to secure quarterback Caleb Williams. Of course, circumstances in the NFL can rapidly change. There is always the possibility that the Carolina Panthers rally and win a few games, disrupting the Bears’ plans. However, as of now, the situation appears grim for the Panthers. Head coach Frank Reich seems confined under the thumb of a micromanaging owner and a quarterback he didn’t desire. To add to their troubles, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB, the team might engage in a significant fire sale at the trade deadline.
Several big names could be unloaded for draft picks.
“The conversation begins with Brian Burns. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after this year and is owed a substantial amount for the remainder of the season (prorated portion of his $16.01 million). However, he is only 25 and plays a crucial position. Last year, the Panthers rejected a significant offer (a 2023 third-rounder, as well as first-rounders in ’24 and ’25) to acquire him. Unfortunately, the Panthers and Burns have failed to come close to a long-term agreement.
A team that trades for him could negotiate a new deal or franchise him in 2024.
Furthermore, three other players are potentially available: safety Jeremy Chinn, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., and cornerback Donte Jackson.”
The weakening of the Panthers benefits the Chicago Bears.
It’s worth noting that the Panthers’ pass defense is their current strength; they rank 6th against the pass this season. The primary reason behind this success is their formidable pass rush, led by Burns, who has accumulated four sacks in the first five games. He is undoubtedly the team’s best player. Although trading him would be reasonable, it would likely severely impact their defense and make the Panthers easier to defeat. However, Carolina faces a predicament with no first-round pick for next year, making their chances of signing him long-term unlikely. Trading him may be the only way to receive something valuable in return, with the possibility of acquiring a first-round pick being feasible.
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Furthermore, parting ways with Jackson and Chinn would only worsen their situation. It would add more pressure on the offense to compensate, despite lacking the necessary firepower. Losing Moore has been a significant setback for their passing game, and Miles Sanders has failed to contribute significantly to their ground attack. Overall, there aren’t many positive aspects to rely on. Moreover, their upcoming schedule doesn’t provide any relief, with a game against the Miami Dolphins and a challenging matchup against the Houston Texans following their bye week. After hosting the Indianapolis Colts the following week, four out of their next five games will be played on the road, including a short turnaround against the Chicago Bears.
This year has the potential to spiral out of control for the Panthers. Historical data shows that teams that start a season with a 0-5 record typically end up with at least a top-5 pick, often securing the #1 or #2 spot. Consequently, this is great news for the Bears.
ohn Smith is your NFL insider, providing in-depth coverage of football’s biggest league. With a passion for the game and a keen eye for statistics, John delivers game analysis, player profiles, and breaking news to keep readers updated on all things NFL.