Bears linked with speedster receiver as possible option
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

Bears linked with speedster receiver as possible option

by - Senior Writer -

With five games left in the 2023 regular season and the Bears sitting at 4-8, it is playoff mode for Chicago from here on out as they try to make it into the postseason. Whether they make it or not won't have a lasting effect on this roster, but the overall play of this team down the stretch will. Matt Eberflus is expected to be on the hot seat again this season, but several players could also be. Ryan Poles will treat these last five games as an evaluation process.

Should these players continue to improve, there will be some pieces to keep in place going forward, but if not, look for an even bigger roster turnover next season. One player who has suddenly come under the microscope is Darnell Mooney, as his days in Chicago could be numbered. The former fifth-rounder from Tulane was never viewed as a No. 1 option, but after a solid rookie season, Mooney emerged as the team's No. 1 option in year two as he finished with more than 1000 yards that season.

Since then, Mooney has been disappointing, to say the least, as he battled through an injury-riddled campaign in 2022 and has yet to live up to his billing in 2023 with DJ Moore coming into the mix. Remember that this is a contract year for Mooney, so if he hopes to get a long-term deal, his play this season isn't helping his cause. If Mooney elects to hit free agency after this season, or in the Bears case, should they not bring him back, there will be a hole in the WR room to replace.

Many figure the Bears will target Marvin Harrison Jr. in the draft, which will help, but there are other options that this team should consider to help Justin Fields further and take the pressure off Moore.

According to Matt Holder of Bleacher Report, Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise (Hollywood) Brown is starting to become a name as a possible option for Chicago.

The former Baltimore Ravens WR and now Arizona Cardinal WR is a borderline No. 1 option, but in Chicago, he would be their No. 2 option. Brown is having an equally bad year like Mooney, but the overall skillset of Brown is much better than Mooney as he would become a better option and make this team better. Known for his speed, Brown is the perfect deep ball threat for Fields, but it has been his improved route running that made him the Ravens No. 1 before going to Arizona.

“Brown could replace the speed Mooney brings to the team’s offense, and the former would also be an upgrade as he’s a more complete receiver with a better track record of success,” Holder wrote recently. “‘Hollywood’ is only two years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign and has put up good numbers this season despite the Cardinals’ instability at quarterback.”

Holder isn't alone in that thought process, as Bill Zimmerman of Windy City Gridiron had this to say.

“The idea of pairing Brown with DJ Moore and still being in a position to get an elite WR in the top 10 of the 2024 NFL Draft and have Tyler Scott at WR4 would give the Bears a strong receiving group that could give defenses trouble,” Zimmerman wrote. “Brown won’t be cheap, but he won’t have an astronomical number either. The Bears could sign someone of this caliber to replace Darnell Mooney, who will want to test free agency rather than remain with the Bears.”

The former Oklahoma product was one of the fastest WRs in the country during his tenure, and that hasn't changed in the NFL. Drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft, the 26-year-old Brown spent his first three seasons in Baltimore before being traded to Arizona the past two. In 13 starts with Arizona this year, Brown has 51 catches for 574 yards and four touchdowns after putting up close to 900 yards last season. His best numbers came in 2021 when he hauled in 91 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns.

When you look at the reports surfacing, many expect Brown to land a three-year deal somewhere around $36 million with $20 million guaranteed. That is a higher salary than you tend to pay a No. 2 WR, but he is a significant upgrade that will improve this offense. While the move makes a ton of sense, some don't think Brown is an upgrade over Mooney, but instead the other way around.

Looking at measurements, Brown sits at 5-9 and 180 pounds while Mooney stands at 5-10 and 189 pounds. They both have speed, but Brown topped out at 4.27 in the 40 as opposed to 4.38 for Mooney. Brown has also been more productive over his career. He has played one season longer than Mooney, but has found the end zone at a much higher rate. Brown has 28 career TD receptions; Mooney has 11. Brown has averaged 51.3 yards per game over his career; Mooney has averaged 44.4.

This move makes sense, and it will be interesting to see if Kevin Warren and Poles feel the same.

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