Darnell Mooney became eligible to sign an extension after the 2022 regular season came to an end. And although we crossed that finish line weeks ago, we’ve heard nothing on the extension front for the third-year Bears receiver. What gives?
Perhaps recent news of Mooney changing agencies and joining Athletes First might help explain some things:
I suppose congratulations are in order for Mooney. Athletes First is a highly regarded agency that handles NFL players. And if they do right by him, then it probably means he’ll have secured a bag. Which brings me to the question-of-the-day: What does this change mean for the odds of a Mooney extension?
OK, so Mooney finished the year with just 40 catches, 493 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns in 12 games this year. That isn’t a great place from which to be negotiating if you want a new contract.
However, Mooney is also only a year removed from being Chicago’s top wideout. Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards, and 4 scores in 2021. And his arrow was pointing up, as his second-year production was a step up from his rookie season. We shouldn’t overlook that in dissecting Mooney’s case for an extension. What is also worth noting is that Mooney has been the player Justin Fields clearly trusts the most. And that goes for each of the last two seasons. Which makes it notable that Fields is also represented by Athletes First. Just chalk it up to these two continuing to be on the same page.
As for what an extension could look like, that is tough to pin down. I was feeling optimistic when suggesting that Mooney could be in line for a Terry McLaurin type of payday back in June. But in my defense, he would’ve been on that trajectory had he hit his preseason projections and stayed on the path he looked to be on after his first two years as a pro. Even still … things appear to be lining up for Mooney to get paid.
Maybe it won’t be in that top tier of 10-best receiver contracts. But perhaps Mooney gets something on the secondary level. It could look something like Diontae Johnson’s contract. Or the type of extension Hunter Renfrow signed with the Raiders. Would recent deals signed by the likes of Michael Gallup (before free agency opened in 2022) or Allen Robinson (as an unrestricted free agent) be better comps? These questions don’t have answers now. But it won’t stop us from thinking about them as the offseason moves along.
In the end, Mooney getting new reps probably changes the dynamic a bit. Remember, there were already whispers hinting at a mutual interest when it came to a potential Mooney extension. However, I hope working with a new agency doesn’t stunt any progress the Bears could’ve made toward extending Mooney. After all, new relationships can be tedious to navigate in the early going. But perhaps inking with Athletes First will nudge the two sides closer to an extension.