Darnell Mooney gained recognition with an impressive sophomore season in 2021, surpassing 1,000 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 81 receptions for the Chicago Bears.
However, his performance has declined over the past two seasons, reaching a modest 31 catches, 414 yards, and one touchdown in 2023.
Mooney’s dip in form can be attributed to various injuries, limiting his availability and impacting his on-field performance.
After playing all 17 games in 2021, he missed the final five games of 2022 due to an ankle issue and sat out two games in the recent season dealing with a knee bruise and concussion.
Additionally, Chicago’s shift towards a more run-oriented offense has constrained Mooney’s potential contributions.
In 2021, the Bears passed on 55.8 percent of their offensive plays, but this ratio significantly decreased in 2022 (43.8 percent) and 2023 (51.3 percent).
While Mooney might experience a resurgence with changes in the coaching staff, such as the replacement of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy with Shane Waldron, the Bears are not expected to transform into a top-tier passing team next season.
Whether they stick with Justin Fields or opt for a new starting quarterback, the Bears may not excel in the passing game.
Mooney’s ability to create separation on deep routes would be better utilized in a team with an established quarterback unafraid to throw deep.
If he joins a squad with a strong-armed quarterback like the Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen, Mooney could potentially be one of the most valuable signings of the free-agent period, especially considering Spotrac’s estimate of just over $10 million per season for him.