PFF gives Falcons high marks for Darnell Mooney signing

NFL: DEC 12 Bears at Packers

The Falcons two most glaring needs coming into NFL free agency were quarterback and wide receiver. On day one of free agency, they made the biggest splash of the entire offseason, inking Kirk Cousins to a lucrative four-year, $180 million contract. On day two, they got their new quarterback some more help, signing Darnell Mooney to a three-year, $39 million deal, which Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus called one of the best moves of free agency. 

WR DARNELL MOONEY SIGNS WITH THE ATLANTA FALCONS

  • 2023 PFF Grade55.2 (107th/158)
  • 2023 PFF WAR0.02 (128th)
  • Fit/need grade: A+
  • Value grade: A-
  • Contract: Three years, $39 million ($13 million per year), $26 million fully guaranteed
  • PFF projected contract: One year, $9 million fully guaranteed

Mooney avoids the one-year flier after a down 2023 season and gets paid a contract that reflects an understanding that his lack of production in recent years wasn’t entirely his fault, with the Bears ranking 32nd in passing yards over his rookie contract. Mooney still separated consistently on film, and now he immediately steps in as a No. 2 option at wide receiver opposite Drake London, winning in different ways than him and tight end Kyle Pitts. A reunion with former Bears general manager Ryan Pace, the man who drafted Mooney in 2020, was a perfect match for all parties.

A quick look at Darnell Mooney’s stats from the previous two seasons makes three years for $39 million seem entirely too rich. He hasn’t eclipsed 500 yards receiving since 2021; however, the situation he was in with the Bears didn’t do him any favors. Justin Fields is one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in the game, and as Spielberger points out, Chicago was dead last in passing yards over the course of Mooney’s rookie contract.

Prior to Fields becoming the full-time starter, Mooney caught for over 1,000 yards on 81 catches in his sophomore season and caught for over 600 yards as a rookie. He’s plenty capable of being the WR2 across from Drake London, filling the team’s biggest need heading into the draft, which will allow Terry Fontenot the flexibility of taking the best player available.

Playing with Kirk Cousins is a wide receiver’s dream. The amount of success pass catchers have had in the past with him under center is unprecedented, just look at some of the numbers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and even Jordan Addison put up while Cousins was in Minnesota. Mooney could be in for a career year in an Atlanta offense that is poised to be one of the most explosive in the league.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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