Insider Drops New Update on Darnell Mooney’s Future With Bears

Darnell Mooney

Getty Will the Bears pay WR Darnell Mooney big money in 2023?

One top Chicago Bears insider just threw a bit of new information into the fray concerning the team’s future contract negotiations with wide receiver Darnell Mooney.

Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo reported on October 14 that “the Bears and Mooney have significant mutual interest in getting an extension done,” and now, Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog has weighed in regarding how much Chicago may or may not be willing to pay the third-year wideout if and when he gets extended.

Mooney had a slow start to the 2022 season, but has been warming up in recent weeks. He led the Bears in receiving last season with 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns, and he is still the team’s leading WR despite leading Chicago in receiving just three out of its eight games.

The former fifth-round pick out of Tulane has caught a pass of 20 yards or more in each of the last five games and has been a favorite target for second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

Mooney is the seventh receiver drafted by the Bears to pass the 2,000-yard mark since the start of the 2000 season.

DBB on Mooney: Bears Won’t Give Him $20 Million

The highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL are Tyreek Hill ($30 million per year) of the Miami Dolphins and Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders ($28 million a year). Mooney certainly isn’t in that tier, but considering his contributions to the Bears in recent seasons, it’s fair to wonder whether he could command around $20 million a year, the way receivers Amari Cooper of the Cleveland Browns and Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Charges have.

When a fan noted Mooney will likely be asking for somewhere around $20 million per season, Hughes, one of the top Bears insiders around, says that’s not happening:

The 25-year-old receiver set a Bears rookie record for receptions (46) in 2020, and he has been making his mark on other team records. Mooney’s 142 catches are the most by any Bears player in their first two seasons in the NFL:

  • Darnell Mooney (2020-2021) 142
  • Alshon Jeffery (2012-2013) 113
  • Johnny Knox (2009-2010) 96
  • Marcus Robinson* (1998-1999) 88
  • Harlon Hill (1954-1955) 87

How Will Addition of Chase Claypool Affect Darnell Mooney?

The Bears just sent their 2023 second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for wide receiver Chase Claypool, who is a different kind of receiver than the 5-foot-11, 173-pound Mooney. Claypool will provide a big-bodied target for Fields, and Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy thinks the addition of Claypool could open things up even more for Mooney.

“Everything you do, you’re trying to find the best matchups, right?” Getsy said on November 3. “So, if teams have different things to worry about, I think that’s what’s been able to make us pretty unique offensively is that you get what we do a bunch of different ways. And so the more players that you have that can do multiple things, then that definitely simplifies defenses for sure. So I think that helps.”

It will be interesting to see how the addition of Claypool affects Mooney’s production. Both Claypool and Mooney are up for extensions in 2023, and it’s possible — likely even — that Chicago makes them both offers. But if Hughes is correct and the Bears aren’t willing to go up to $20 million, the production of both WRs over the remainder of the season will be key. We’ll see who enhances their worth more, and what the Bears are willing to pay soon enough, but it’s something to monitor as the rest of the regular season plays out.

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