Darnell Mooney

Darnell Mooney entering 2023 season with new set of goals

This time last year, Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney was a popular pick to be one of the biggest breakout players of the 2022 season. And while he wasn’t nearly as productive as many thought he’d be, it wasn’t entirely his fault.

The Bears’ passing offense took nearly half a season to get going, and even when Justin Fields heated up, the production wasn’t consistent with the high-flying yards and touchdown numbers we’ve seen from passing attacks across the league.

Mooney’s 2022 campaign was limited to just 12 games because of a fractured left ankle suffered against the New York Jets, too. His year ended with 40 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns, all career lows.

Now entering his fourth season with the Bears, Mooney is eligible for a contract extension but is unlikely to receive one before Week 1 kicks off. Chicago traded for both Chase Claypool and DJ Moore in the last six months, and with Mooney still on the mend, he’ll have to prove he’s healthy and productive enough to land a second contract with the Bears.

It would be reasonable, then, for Mooney to have a long list of personal goals centered around production so he can secure a massive payday. But that isn’t his style.

“Do whatever I can do for my team, or whatever,” Mooney said of his goals during an appearance on The 33rd Team’s St. Brown Brothers Podcast. “I mean ball out, of course. Dominate. Not really on the ‘respect my name’ anymore. I’m just disrespecting everybody now. I don’t really care about respect no more. Other than that, I just want to win. I don’t really care about anything else, for real.”

Darnell Mooney has proven capable of putting up big numbers in the NFL. In 2021, he had 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four scores. It’s a stat line that’s even more impressive considering the level of play at quarterback during a season that began with Andy Dalton and ended with Fields running for his life.

Mooney has a lot of fans inside Halas Hall that are hoping for a success story in 2023. General manager Ryan Poles is among the biggest.

“I love (Mooney) more than I did when I first walked in the door,” Poles said in January. “I think he’s a special human being, first and foremost, and a really good football player.”

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