In 2023, Ryan Poles, the general manager of the Bears, will need to make some critical choices.
After the 2022 season is through, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles will have to make some important choices.
While Poles will undoubtedly change the squad through free agency and possibly through trades, several players will also soon have contract extensions due. Two of those guys are top running back David Montgomery and two-time second-team All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith, but the Poles may place more emphasis on one other player who is quickly rising to stardom.
In his third season with the Bears, wide receiver Darnell Mooney has established himself as an important part of Chicago’s attack. Mooney, a 2020 fifth-round selection out of Tulane, is also a favorite target for quarterback Justin Fields, who is in his second season. The two have a good rapport and met regularly this past offseason to further build it.
Now, there are reports that the Bears have a lot of interest in extending the wide receiver but will wait until the conclusion of this year. Heavy’s Matt Lombardo put out the report on Friday afternoon in his mailbag:
Multiple league sources told Heavy that the Bears and Darnell Mooney have significant mutual interest in getting an extension done. However, Chicago is not permitted to actually sign Mooney to a new deal until the conclusion of his third season, which is this year.
However, as Mooney, 24, enters the final years of his current contract, the wide receiver has been a lone bright spot in the Bears’ receiving corps. Through six games this season, Mooney has caught 17 passes for 241 yards — including a season-high 7 receptions and a near game-winning touchdown in Thursday night’s Week 6 loss to Washington — in one of the most run-oriented and one-dimensional schemes in the NFL.
Darnell Mooney has had a poor start to the season thus far, but recently, he’s been picking up steam. Mooney has hauled in 13 passes for 214 yards in his last three games after collecting just four passes for 27 yards in his first three games, including this Catch of the Year contender.
I’m still amazed by this catch by Darnell Mooney.. 😳 pic.twitter.com/vfziUCuJY6
— MonstaOfDaTriState (@scar179nyc) October 9, 2022
Following the 2021 season, the 25-year-old receiver led the Bears in targets (140), receptions (81), receiving yards (1,055), and touchdown catches (4). He finished the 2020 season as Chicago’s second-leading receiver (61 catches, 631 yards, and four touchdowns), and his 61 receptions set an NFL record for a rookie wide receiver.
What kind of extension could Darnell Mooney have?
Mooney’s estimated market worth, according to Spotrac, is $18.9 million per season, which translates to a four-year, $75.7 million deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mooney signed a contract resembling that.
Darnell Mooney has served as the Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver on a club that desperately needs quality at the position, and his rapport with Fields could be enough to guarantee him a future in Chicago.
Darnell Mooney will undoubtedly have more opportunities to demonstrate his value before the regular season is over, but it appears that he might remain a mainstay on the Bears’ offense for many years to come.
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