LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Turnover at quarterback was the underlying theme of DJ Moore's five seasons in Carolina.
Despite catching passes from eight different quarterbacks, the wide receiver, who was a key figure in the Chicago Bears trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers for Moore and four draft picks March 9, doesn't look back on Carolina's futility at the position with dismay.
"I won't call that a mess," Moore said of the Panthers quarterback situation, "but [to] come to a better situation with a stable quarterback, the sky's the limit from there. And consistency."
Moore was drafted 24th overall in 2018 and ended his time in Carolina as the franchise's fourth-leading receiver (5,201 yards). Beginning the next part of his career in a Bears offense that ranked in the bottom five in 2022 but contains the promise of a young franchise quarterback in Justin Fields has Moore excited about how his contributions can elevate the unit.
"I think everybody's level can reach a new level here now that I'm here," Moore said. "I was talking to [Darnell] Mooney and was talking about being together with Chase [Claypool] and me and him, how we're just going to elevate the offense and just elevate Justin at the same time. Because I'm not just here to be like, 'I'm here,' just like a bright light. I'm here to make everyone around me better and we just want to try to get some wins."
Moore recorded at least 1,100 receiving yards each season from 2019 to 2021 and scored a career-high seven touchdowns in 2022. Bolstering the receiving corps in Chicago was a top priority for general manager Ryan Poles after Mooney finished as the Bears' leading wide receiver with 493 yards despite missing the final five games with injury. Chicago's wide receivers were responsible for 10 of the team's 19 receiving touchdowns last season.
Moore's ability to elevate the play among the Bears' receiving corps was intriguing for Poles as he investigated the type of compensation needed to move the No. 1 pick.
"Just a receiver that can create separation and make big plays," Poles said of Moore's abilities. "I think this league shows you good teams have guys that make big plays in big moments. That's finishing a game off in the fourth quarter or if that's getting things kicked off in the beginning. DJ has those traits. And we're excited to have him."
Poles described the process of trading the No. 1 pick as having "a lot of twists and turns." Carolina emerged as a front-runner among a handful of teams following the NFL combine and ultimately sent Chicago the No. 9 and No. 61 picks in 2023 along with a 2024 first-rounder and a 2025 second-round selection in addition to Moore.
In deciding how far the Bears could move back in the draft, Poles estimated that there were "probably six or seven" players they considered taking with the No. 1 overall pick before ultimately deciding to trade out of the spot.
"I think that's where having DJ Moore part of package really got us over the edge because we knew we were getting a top-end player included in that," Poles said.
Moore reunites with Carolina quarterback PJ Walker, who was signed by Chicago on Wednesday to be Fields' backup. The Bears released quarterback Trevor Siemian on Thursday, leaving Walker as the lone backup behind Fields on the depth chart.
Walker said he was "shocked" to learn Moore was packaged in the trade for the No. 1 overall pick and lauded the receiver's football intelligence in addition to his skill set.
"When I was in Carolina with him, a lot of times watching he was out of the huddle [for the next play] when the play was finally finished," Walker said. "That just goes to show you what type of player you're getting. There's no waiting around. When you get a guy like that and you're two words into the huddle and he's already breaking the huddle, there aren't many guys like that and he's one of them.
"For us, it was great. You know you got a smart guy out there who knows where to line up, knows the routes, can help the guys around him. Second to none. His talent speaks for itself. But the little things like being smart, knowing where to be, knowing coverages, knowing how to break down zones, I think that's something that stood out in Carolina as well."
Moore quickly began connecting with his new teammates after being traded and took in Wednesday's Chicago Bulls game with Fields, Claypool and Mooney.
The prospect of helping Fields take another step in his third season after the Bears reaffirmed their commitment to the quarterback by trading out of No. 1 has Moore excited about his next chapter.
"The way that we got me here was to better a franchise," Moore said. "So that's what I'm here to do. I'm going to put my head down, work hard every day and just go from there."