The Chicago Bears were not wowed by C.J. Stroud during last year's draft process. Being blown away was what it was going to take for Bears general manager Ryan Poles to take a quarterback in last year's draft and move on from Justin Fields.
Instead, Poles traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for wide receiver D.J. Moore and four draft picks.
The Panthers must not have been impressed with Stroud either as they took Bryce Young instead. What a big mistake by both franchises.
Stroud is on his way toward winning Rookie of the Year while Young needs to learn how to play quarterback at his smallish size in the NFL.
Stroud has elevated the play of everyone around him. He is the deodorizing franchise quarterback. The Houston Texans have gone from a dysfunctional franchise to a division champion and now a playoff winner.
Meanwhile, the Panthers finished with the worst record in the NFL. They are the epitome of a dysfunctional franchise.
The Bears did miss out on an opportunity to solve their seven-decade-long problem at quarterback by sticking with Fields. Justin did make some improvements as a pocket passer, but it was not enough to firmly entrench himself as the franchise quarterback. That is why there is a good chance the team will move on from Fields this offseason.
The Bears could have avoided this had they not traded the top pick last year and took Stroud. Poles was pressed about not taking Stroud in his year-end press conference. He made some excellent points on the decision that was made. Additionally, there are three reasons it is fine that the Bears did not take Stroud.
The Chicago Bears got maximum value for last year's No. 1 overall pick
The Bears got 96 catches for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns from D.J. Moore this season. They also got their right tackle for the next 10 years in Darnell Wright. In addition, they picked up a fourth-round pick when they swapped spots in the first round with the Eagles.
Oh, and the Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. The franchise is in a position to draft USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye. Those two have the talent to be just as good and possibly better than Stroud.
That is a maximum return to pass up on drafting Stroud. The deal was completely in Chicago's favor that the Panthers fired their general manager who pulled off the trade.
The Bears also have a future second-round pick in next year's draft. Had the Bears not maxed out the return for the No. 1 pick, then we can debate passing on Stroud all day. Instead, we might be grateful the Bears chose the path they are currently on.