Darnell Mooney

Report: Darnell Mooney leaving Bears to sign free agent deal with new team

He's teaming up with a former Bears rival, too

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Darnell Mooney will reportedly leave the Chicago Bears this year. The wide receiver is set to join up with Vikings QB Kirk Cousins with the Atlanta Falcons, per Ian Rapoport.

Mooney is a former 1,000-yard receiver, but he struggled to make a consistent impact on offense over his past two seasons in Chicago.

Much was made of Mooney's bond and chemistry with quarterback Justin Fields after their debut season together in 2021. Mooney's 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns that year made the Bears confident enough to entrust him with WR1 duties moving forward. But Mooney took a step back when Luke Getsy took over the offense in 2022, and the on-field chemistry with Fields seemed to evaporate. In 2022 and 2023 combined, Mooney caught just 71 balls for 907 yards and three touchdowns.

Given the type of money the Falcons gave Mooney, it's clear that they believe the problem with Mooney's production last season was either due to Fields' play, Getsy's offense, or some combination of both. In terms of total money, Mooney is now tied with Gabe Davis as the 23rd-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL according to Spotrac, just ahead of Diontae Johnson and just behind Brandin Cooks. He ranks 24th in guaranteed money, and tied for 24th in terms of average annual value.

The Bears drafted Mooney in the fifth round of the 2020 draft and he quickly became a fan favorite. Mooney enjoyed success as a rookie when he worked alongside Allen Robinson, catching 61 passes for 631 yards and four scores. His sophomore season was his 2021 breakout, and it appeared Mooney was destined for a solid career as a Chicago Bear. That feeling was seemingly cemented when Bears GM singled out Mooney as a potential cornerstone player when he took control of the team in 2022. However a downturn in production and an ankle injury at the tail end of 2022 derailed his future with the team.

The Bears have DJ Moore, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr. and Collin Johnson under contract and on the active roster at wide receiver for the 2024 season.

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