Extensions to Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney would snap Bears decade-long drought
The Chicago Bears have decisions to make regarding a few of their veteran players from their 2020 draft class who are now eligible for extensions. Two of those players. tight end Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney, are each entering their fourth year with the Bears and are eligible to sign an extension to remain with the team after the 2023 season.
Kmet has improved in each season as a professional and is coming off a season in which he led the Bears in catches (50), yards (544) and touchdowns (seven). Mooney, meanwhile, entered the 2022 season as the unquestioned top wide receiver for the Bears. He was looking to build off his first 1,000-yard season, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 12. He still finished the second on the Bears in receptions (40) and yards (493).
The Bears have a chance at not only locking up two key offensive skill players, but skill players who were homegrown as well. It’s something the team hasn’t excelled at in recent years, with no tight ends or wide receivers signing multi-year extensions after being drafted by the Bears in over a decade.
Since then, the Bears have picked 12 receivers and three tight ends through the 2022 season. Here are the last two players to receive multiyear extensions at those positions who were drafted by the team and how their careers fared after the fact.
WR Earl Bennett
CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 15: Wide receiver Earl Bennett #80 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Drafted in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft
Signed 4-year, $15 million extension in 2011 ($7 million guaranteed)
Earl Bennett was the last wide receiver drafted by the Bears to earn a multi-year extension from the team. He was a reliable slot receiver after being drafted out of Vanderbilt in 2008, really making his impact when his college quarterback Jay Cutler got to town in 2009.
Bennett had 1,278 receiving yards from 2009-2010 and signed his extension near the end of the 2011 season. It was one of the final moves made by general manager Jerry Angelo before he was fired after the season.
Bennett signed for four years but only played two of them with the Bears. When the team traded for Brandon Marshall and drafted Alshon Jeffery in the 2012 offseason under new general manager Phil Emery, Bennett settled in as the third receiver in the passing game, finishing with 375 yards and two touchdowns. He scored a career-high four touchdowns in 2013 and was released the following offseason when he refused a pay cut.
TE Kellen Davis
Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Kellen Davis (87) misses a pass in the game with the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft
Signed 2-year, $6 million extension in 2012 ($2.7 million guaranteed)
The Bears drafted Kellen Davis in the later rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft, but he was primarily a backup behind players such as Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. That all changed when the team made the surprising move to trade Olsen to the Carolina Panthers in the summer of 2011, coupled with the release of Clark. Suddenly, Davis was TE1 for the 2011 season.
Davis only caught 18 passes for 206 yards, but had five receiving touchdowns that season which led the team. That was enough for Bears management, however as Emery rewarded Davis with a two-year extension in 2012, but had buyers remorse almost immediately.
In 2012, Davis was targeted 44 times but caught just 19 for 229 yards and two scores as the starting tight end. He struggled with drops and could barely keep his feet when running routes. Davis was released the next offseason and caught on as a backup for the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, helping them win Super Bowl XLVIII. He then spent time with the Detroit Lions and New York Jets, last playing in 2016.