Chiefs ‘Remain’ in the Mix for Former 1,000-Yard WR - Sport News

Chiefs ‘Remain’ in the Mix for Former 1,000-Yard WR

As usual, the Kansas City Chiefs took a backseat during the initial free agency rush on March 11 — but that doesn’t mean general manager Brett Veach isn’t working behind the scenes.

Darnell Mooney declined 3-year extension before 2023 season: report - Yahoo  Sports

The Chiefs tend to be very active during the second and third wave of free agency, targeting value signings once the different market have revealed themselves. That appears to be the plan again in 2024.

“The #Chiefs, among others, remain interested in free agent receiver Darnell Mooney,” ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler reported on the evening of March 11. He added that Mooney “had a 1,000-yard season under Chiefs OC Matt Nagy from their days with the [Chicago] Bears.”

It’s not the first time that Kansas City has been connected to Mooney since parting ways with Marquez Valdes-Scantling on February 28. The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer relayed that “chatter” at the NFL combine predicted the Bears draft pick could join the Chiefs.

Wiederer also noted that “there’s a small buzz on the possibility of Mooney having a resurgent 2024 at a great value price.”

After two down-campaigns following his 1,000-yard season in 2021, Pro Football Focus projected a one-year, prove-it contract for Mooney this spring — worth $9 million. As positives, PFF noted his ability to “create separation on intermediate and deep routes consistently” and his potential as a “buy-low” talent.

The Bears pass-catcher was ranked as PFF’s sixth-best free agent wideout in this year’s class, headlining the second tier of options at No. 61 overall.

Chiefs Can Be Patient With NFL WR Market

After a majority of the top stars came off the board ahead of free agency — including Mike Evans and Michael Pittman Jr. — the wide receiver market has slowed down as other positions like offensive line and running back have taken center stage.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah offered a potential reason for this early turn of events on the evening of March 11, stating: “Not much happening in WR market. Draft is stacked at that position.”

There were a few headlines at wide receiver on day one. Tee Higgins requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter and Gabe Davis agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a three-year, $39 million contract (Schefter again).

Aside from that, the entire position has been extremely quiet so far.

Darnell Mooney a Frontrunner to Join Chiefs Due to Matt Nagy Coaching Ties

Mooney had a ton of success with Nagy in Chicago. After the current KC offensive coordinator left town, the WR put together two sub-500-yard receiving seasons despite totaling nearly 1,700 yards over his first two campaigns.

Of course, this most likely wasn’t all Mooney’s fault. A few factors altered things for the Bears in 2022 and 2023.

One, Justin Fields took over at quarterback as the full-time starter. In all fairness, Fields joined the organization in 2021, but he only managed to start 10 games as a rookie.

Fields makes his plays through the air, but he’s no Patrick Mahomes. Considered by most to be a run-first quarterback, one can only imagine how eye-opening it would be for Mooney to play for Andy Reid and Kansas City — who tend to throw the football, a lot.

The Bears offensive coordinator role also changed hands from Bill Lazor to Luke Getsy in 2022, with Nagy making way for new defensive-minded HC Matt Eberflus. Getsy put together a top-ranked rushing offense in Chicago, but his passing unit was consistently placed toward the bottom of the league.

There were also injuries that factored into Mooney’s regression during the first season under Getsy (12 appearances that year).

Mooney has his flaws, but he’s also a typical “value” target for Veach and KC. Some of these signings have hit big — like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Drue Tranquill or Mike Edwards — and others like Valdes-Scantling have largely failed.

Either way, this is the financial range that the Chiefs prefer to operate in after three championship runs since 2019.

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