Darnell Mooney

Here's the surprising way Darnell Mooney was recruited to the Falcons

Kirk Cousins was antsy to assemble his receiving corps before arriving in Atlanta

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Now former Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney made a splash in free agency this offseason, signing a three-year deal with the Falcons for $39 million.

There, he joins a formidable offensive group with Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Rondale Moore, the latter of whom the Falcons trade for on Thursday. And, of course, Kirk Cousins.

Cousins admitted during his introductory press conference on Wednesday that he recruited Mooney to the Falcons.

"Winning is what it's all about. That really informs so many decisions," Cousins said. "And even in recruiting Darnell Mooney to come here, his answer is 'I just want to win.' And I said 'Well, we're on the same page.'"

Bears fans can empathize with Mooney on that front. Since the Bears drafted him in 2020, they've gone 24-43 in Mooney's first four seasons in the NFL. It's been a tough road for the Bears, and Mooney, who's played under two different head coaches in that span.

Mooney reportedly had an offer on the table to return to the Bears ahead of the 2023 season. The contract offer, according to the Chicago Tribune, was for three years and worth $30 million. Mooney declined and bet on himself.

He won, earning $9 million more from the Falcons. But it was a shocking offer, considering Mooney's paltry numbers over the past two seasons. He's failed to exceed 500 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, scoring just three touchdowns during that span, too.

But the Falcons, and Kirk Cousins --- who watched Mooney play against him twice per season over the last four years with the Vikings --- believe Mooney's shortcomings were a product of a much larger issue in Chicago.

That led Cousins to recruit Mooney, who's going into his fifth year in the league, to Atlanta. That, and Mooney's hunger to win.

"That's really where the focus lies," Cousins said about winning. "But you got to go prove it in the fall. But you certainly believe that there's some pieces here that can do that."

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