The Chicago Bears will have a tough decision to make in the coming 10 months in their wide receiver room. For the first time in a long time the room not only has talent, but they have depth with D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool.
The real answer to which WR the Chicago Bears should pay
However, interestingly enough, one year after the room is finally put together it may come back apart again. Both Claypool and Mooney are free agents after this season. The Bears acquired D.J. Moore in part because they liked these two wideouts as secondary options. So, the question comes, do the Bears pay one of these wide receivers, do they pay both and keep the room together, or is the answer neither?
As time goes on, the best answer may slowly become neither. Both Claypool and Mooney are right on that edge where they are good to have but not good to the point where you want to extend. You can see both of them being the biggest free agent name on the market, but we all know only certain players hit free agency, and they are the ones who get overpaid and do not meet expectations in most cases. Could that be Mooney and Claypool?
For Mooney, it appears the team already has someone chomping at his heels. Tyler Scott was drafted in round four, and he has a similar body type. He also appears to be getting work in the slot, a sign that he is coming to replace Mooney. For Claypool, he is a proponent of the sunk cost fallacy.
Ryan Poles traded pick 32 for Claypool, but that pick is gone. The need to get more than one and a half years may cause Poles to offer Claypool a deal that he will not offer to Mooney. However, Claypool has less experience with Justin Fields; he was worse in this offense than Mooney and has been trending down since his rookie season.
Claypool is in a weird spot where a bad season will have the team ready to move on, and a good season may drive his price to the point where Chicago also does not want to pay him. So, they could end up losing both.
Still, that is why they traded for DJ Moore. They knew that neither of these two were the long-term and answer and that both needed someone like Moore to make them better. So, the Chicago Bears could let Mooney and Claypool walk.
Tyler Scoot can replace Mooney, and the Bears can look to the NFL draft again in 2024 to replace Claypool. This would get them younger at the position, and the two rookie contracts would be much cheaper than Mooney or Claypool.
Considering they are already paying Moore, they do not want to invest in three big contracts, but even two at wide receiver means taking away from other spots. With Moore making big money and the two depth players being rookie salaries, the Bears could maintain their depth and talent while supplementing the other positions with the extra salary cap space.
So, while the debate of Mooney or Claypool will rage on, the answer that is less talked about but may be the right answer is neither.