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Unlike most teams that land the No. 1 overall pick, the Chicago Bears already have a franchise-caliber quarterback. While Justin Fields still has room to grow, his impressive year-two jump justified the decision to build around his dual-threat skill set. And with their talented young leader in desperate need of better weapons and protection and their last-ranked defense in desperate need of impact players on all three levels, the Bears have a prime opportunity to fill multiple holes on both sides of the ball — if they play their cards right. 

Between Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, the 2023 NFL Draft features two blue-chip quarterback prospects teeming with upside. That puts Bears general manager Ryan Poles in the perfect position to capitalize and transform the No. 1 pick into multiple selections that can be utilized to upgrade Fields’ supporting cast. 

Of course, it takes two sides to make a deal. And with several quarterback-needy teams picking in the top 10, the fight to win the bidding war for the right to select Young or Stroud could get fierce. But which potential trade partner should be considered the favorite to do business with the Bears? 

Let’s take a look at four franchises that could be in the mix to acquire the No. 1 overall pick and determine which one can offer Chicago the strongest trade package.

4. Las Vegas Raiders

Trade Capital: 1st round — 7th overall; 2nd round — 38th overall 

Now that the Derek Carr era is officially over, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler must find a replacement for the Raiders’ longtime starting quarterback. While trading for Aaron Rodgers still seems like a realistic scenario, the idea of building around a younger, less-expensive player could entice Las Vegas to be proactive about moving up in the draft. 

Unfortunately for the Raiders, their odds of convincing Chicago to part ways with the No. 1 pick don’t look particularly promising. Would Poles want to move down six spots and surely miss out on a top defensive prospect like Jalen Carter or Will Anderson? That doesn’t seem like a smart move based on how badly the Bears need a star pass rusher.

Moreover, it’s fair to wonder whether the Raiders should even consider putting together a package to move from No. 7 to No. 1. This is a team that must make substantial upgrades on defense and improve the offensive line, which will require hitting on multiple picks. If anything, McDaniels and Ziegler may want to let the board fall their way and see if someone like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis falls into their lap.

3. Carolina Panthers

Trade Capital: 1st round — 9th overall; 2nd round — 39th overall, 60th overall 

Despite picking two spots later, the Carolina Panthers rank just ahead of the Raiders on this list. Thanks to the Christian McCaffrey trade, they have an extra second-round selection that should be a valuable bargaining chip. In terms of total draft capital, Frank Reich’s new team has the edge over McDaniels’ squad. 

More importantly, the Panthers could sweeten the pot with a player or two. Does star pass rusher Brian Burns get dangled in trade talks? The athletic defensive end has yet to sign an extension with the team that drafted him 16th overall back in 2019, which raises questions about his future in Carolina. 

The Bears could ask for Burns, the No. 9 overall pick, and one of the Panthers’ second-round picks in exchange for the No. 1 overall selection. That deal would represent a win-win for all parties, as Burns would assuredly receive a well-earned extension, the Bears would have their replacement for Khalil Mack, and the Panthers would finally have a true franchise quarterback.

2. Indianapolis Colts

Trade Capital: 1st round — 4th overall; 2nd round — 35th overall

Widely viewed as the favorites to win the sweepstakes for the No. 1 pick, the Indianapolis Colts have a significant advantage over the Raiders and Panthers in that they performed so poorly in 2022 that they’re just three spots behind the Bears in the first round. Ultimately, moving back from No. 1 to No. 4 would be a far more palatable decision than dropping down to No. 7 or No. 9. 

Plus, the Colts have the 35th overall pick, which could pay big dividends if a number of highly touted prospects are still available at the beginning of Day 2 of the draft. 

Ironically, just like the Panthers, the Colts also have a Pro Bowl defensive lineman who could be included in a trade package for the No. 1 pick. DeForest Buckner only has two years remaining on his contract, and with his current team clearly nowhere close to competing for AFC supremacy, could general manager Chris Ballard consider trading arguably the team’s best player? 

If it means Jim Irsay gets his guy in Bryce Young, the answer could be yes.

1. Houston Texans


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Trade Capital: 1st round — 2nd overall, 12th overall; 2nd round — 34th overall 

In terms of pure value, no team can compete with the Houston Texans when it comes to offering the Bears a haul for the No. 1 pick. Not only did DeMeco Ryans return home to take over a team that owns the second overall selection and the No. 12 overall pick. While it would be a bit unconventional for the Texans to trade up just one spot, they may have no choice but to do so if they want to prevent another team from taking the first quarterback off the board. 

Then again, Houston general manager Nick Caserio hails from New England, where he learned the exact opposite from Bill Belichick. Given the Texans’ dearth of talent across the roster, they shouldn’t necessarily be in the business of dealing picks. 

So, even though the Texans have the upper hand over the rest of the league from a capital perspective, they could simply stand pat and let another team take the risk of going all-in to shore up the most important position in sports.