Bears Give Encouraging Update on Darnell Mooney’s Injury

Eberflus Mooney Update

Getty Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney is "on track" to be ready for training camp.

The Chicago Bears are going to be finishing up organized team activities (OTAs) without Darnell Mooney in the fold, but the expectation — for now, at least — is the fourth-year wide receiver will be ready for the start of 2023 training camp.

Following practice on Wednesday, June 7, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told media that Mooney is “on track” to return to the field for the start of training camp in late July, “barring any setbacks” in his recovery from last year’s season-ending ankle injury.

“Darnell is working his tail off and he is right on track,” Eberflus said Wednesday. “We anticipate him going as soon as possible. He’s going to have a great summer. I know he’s really amped up for that summer to get ready for training camp, so we’ll see where it is. And barring any setbacks, he’ll be ready [for training camp].”

Mooney delivered his first 1,000-yard season for the Bears in 2021 and had high expectations coming into 2022 with Allen Robinson gone and the pathway to being Chicago’s No. 1 receiver clear for him. After putting up 40 receptions for 493 yards and two touchdowns in the first 11 games, though, the 25-year-old receiver went down in Week 12 with an ankle injury that cut his season short and left the Bears to finish the year without its most impressive pass-catcher.

Mooney’s return will be valuable for quarterback Justin Fields in the sense that he will finally be able to start taking reps with his new-and-improved starting receiving corps. Fields has gotten to throw to new No. 1 receiver D.J. Moore as well as Chase Claypool and rookie Tyler Scott through OTAs, but Mooney will complete the picture and help the Bears, as a whole, get a sense of how potent their passing game can be in 2023.

Darnell Mooney Fighting for New Contract in 2023

Eberflus Mooney Update1

GettyDarnell Mooney is entering the final year of his rookie contract with the Bears in 2023.

Mooney is heading into a crucial fourth season with the Bears, looking to earn a new contract extension from the team as he prepares to play out the end of his rookie deal. The 5-foot-11, 172-pound receiver has put some impressive performances on the tape and is probably worth considering for an extension even before setting foot back on the field in 2023, but the Bears also have Claypool — whom they gave up a second-rounder to get at the trade deadline last year — competing for a new deal alongside him.

In the end, the Bears may only be interested in extending one of them with Moore under contract through the 2025 season and both Scott and Velus Jones Jr. locked in on their respective rookie deals for at least the next three seasons.

Based on career production, Mooney likely holds an edge over Claypool. The latter had two impressive seasons with the Steelers to begin his career, but his first half-season in Chicago ranged somewhere between forgettable and disastrous. That said, Claypool — who is 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds — is a more physical, big-framed target whereas Mooney is a smaller receiver who has a similar build to the rookie Scott (who could be viewed as an ideal replacement for him if negotiations don’t pan out for Mooney).

According to Spotrac’s projections, Mooney is expected to have a calculated market value of about $14.9 million per season on his second NFL contract; although, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger predicts his next deal could be closer to $17 million per year (with his full projection being a three-year contract worth $52 million).

Eddie Jackson Back at Practice from Lisfranc Injury

Eberflus Mooney Update2

GettyBears free safety Eddie Jackson returned to practice for the final week of OTAs.

In other injury news, the Bears also had starting free safety Eddie Jackson back on the field for Wednesday’s practice. The 29-year-old was having a Pro Bowl-caliber season for the Bears in 2022 before sustaining a Lisfranc injury in his foot one week after Mooney got hurt, landing him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

After a successful offseason of rehab work, though, Eberflus said Jackson rejoined the team earlier in the week for individual drills and was folded back into team reps for Wednesday’s practice, an encouraging sign for his full-time return to the field.

“Eddie has worked his tail off to get back to where he is. He’s in really good shape from working with the rehab staff,” Eberflus said. “I want to commend those guys, the training staff, for getting him back and commend Eddie also for the hard work he’s put in to get to this point. We started him off with individual [work] the day before and he’s been working into some team reps now, so he’s been doing a good job with that.”

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments