Chicago Bears: Darnell Mooney reportedly rejected a deal with team in 2023

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney apparently gambled on himself last year and might have lost. He reportedly rejected a three-year contract extension.

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

This offseason, Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles has some huge decisions to make. He has two top-ten picks in the first round of the NFL Draft, including the number one overall pick. Additionally, the Bears have the third-highest salary cap space in the league.

The situation Poles is in is similar to last year. They also had the number one pick and had the most salary cap space in the league. Poles did a good job of adding to the roster, turning a team that went 3-14 (and losers of their last 10 games) into one that went 7-10 (and with three historic late-game collapses they should have had 10 wins).

Last year, Poles did a very good job of being disciplined in his spending. With all of the holes in the roster, many thought Poles would use as much of the $100+ million in salary cap space. There were some frustrations at some of the biggest names went off the board to other teams.

Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles made a lot of good signings in 2023. However, there was another signing he wanted that did not happen. Darnell Mooney rejected a three-year contract extension.

Poles was not going to get into any bidding wars for any player. He signed a lot of quality players on good terms. At the end of the day, he strengthened the roster without breaking the bank. In addition to not overspending, Poles also had some very good structured contracts. He had a few contracts front-loaded so that if he needed to cut or trade the players, it would not be a big hit.

Even with everything Poles did last year, he wanted to do even more. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Bears offered wide receiver Darnell Mooney a contract extension last offseason.

"There's a cautionary tale here for Mooney as he turned down an extension offer from the Bears before last season started."

Brad Biggs

The offer was a three-year, $30 million deal. He decided to reject it and gamble on himself. If Mooney wanted to stay in Chicago then his gamble might have failed. After having 1,055 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2021, he has struggled since. In 2022 and 2023, he combined for just 907 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was injured in 2022 and missed five games.

In 2023, he was unable to find a foothold in the offense. As the season progressed he was just an afterthought. In their Week 11 loss against the Detroit Lions, quarterback Justin Fields had two reads. The first was DJ Moore underneath. If he was covered, then he was to go deep to...rookie Tyler Scott. Normally, you'd expect the second read to go to Mooney.

Now, instead of being comfortable at home waiting to start camp for the Chicago Bears, he will be sweating things out in free agency. He likely will not receive more than what Poles and the Bears offered. Success for him now would be to reach the $10 million per year Chicago offered.

Things might not be so bad for Mooney, though. His name came up as being a fit for the Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs struggled with their wide receiver corps in 2023 so they might want to go after Mooney. Additionally, former Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy is now the offensive coordinator of the Chiefs. Mooney had his best season under Nagy's system so perhaps a reunion is in order.


The Tennessee Titans are also a team who might go after Mooney. Mooney's first receivers coach, Tyke Tolbert, has the same position with the Titans. Mooney could decide to reunite with his old coach. Either way, while he may not get the same money, he could find himself in a better situation. We will see what happens in a couple of weeks.