Longtime Bears Starter Refused Extension With Team: Report

Ryan Poles

Getty General manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears offered Darnell Mooney a deal before the 2023 season.

Darnell Mooney had a chance to sign a contract extension with the Chicago Bears, but he refused.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, prior to the start of the 2023 regular season, the Bears and general manager Ryan Poles were prepared to offer the wide receiver an extension, but Mooney chose to ride out the season instead of inking a new deal.

Depending on what his market is in free agency, that may have been a costly mistake.

“There’s a cautionary tale here for Mooney as he turned down an extension offer from the Bears before last season started. As I understand it, Mooney had a three-year deal worth more than $10 million annually on the table,” Biggs wrote on March 4.

“It will probably be hard for him to approach that on the open market. Credit to him for being a stand-up guy all season. You didn’t hear Mooney gripe about a lack of opportunities and that will resonate to a degree with teams in free agency.”

Why Would Darnell Mooney Refuse 3-Year Extension With Bears?

That’s difficult to say. Mooney likely felt that he could earn a higher deal if he played well. Unfortunately for the veteran wideout, his play seemed to decline.

Still, with Mike Evans electing to stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for another two seasons, the wide receiver market just got smaller. Mooney could be one of the WRs who benefits.

“Mooney could have a better market than some who follow the Bears expect,” Biggs also noted. “I don’t think teams are going to hold his lack of production in 2023 (31 receptions, 414 yards, one touchdown) against him knowing that Justin Fields didn’t work to his back-side reads very effectively.”

A fifth-round draft pick for the Bears in 2020, Mooney played in 60 games over his four seasons in Chicago, starting 49. An ankle injury forced him to miss five games in 2023, but other than that, he has been relatively healthy. It will be interesting to see what other teams might be willing to pay for his services.

Spotrac has Mooney’s market value at $10.4 million per year, while PFF has him projected to sign a one-year, $9 million contract. He could also wind up back in Chicago, of course, but that feels a bit unlikely at this point.

Bears Will Be Addressing WR in Big Way This Offseason

Whether the Bears choose to re-sign Mooney or not, wide receiver is going to be a primary position of need for them this offseason. Expect Poles to address it in both the draft and free agency.

Mooney’s production over the past two seasons shouldn’t be difficult to surpass. After an 81-catch, 1,055-yard campaign in 2021, he amassed 71 catches for 907 yards over his last two seasons combined. He caught eight touchdowns over his first two years, but only found the end zone three times in the past two seasons.

With wideouts such as Marquise Brown, Gabe Davis and Calvin Ridley all headed for free agency, Chicago will have options, but they’re getting more limited by the day.

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