Shaw Local’s 2023 Chicago Bears report card: Wide receiver

DJ Moore finished with 1,364 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns

Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore gets behind the Detroit Lion secondary and catches a touchdown pass during their game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles went into last offseason knowing that he had to improve the receiving group around quarterback Justin Fields. Fields showed promise in 2022, but his team of receivers – highlighted by Darnell Mooney and mid-season addition Chase Claypool – weren’t good enough.

Poles swung for the fences when he made Carolina receiver DJ Moore a key stipulation in the trade for the No. 1 overall pick. The Bears traded the top pick for Moore and four additional draft picks. Moore had averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards per season during his five years in Carolina.

Moore immediately elevated the Bears’ wide receiver position. Here’s a look at what went well and what didn’t for the position in 2023.

Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore makes a touchdown catch against Washington Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller during the first half, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Landover, Md.


Moore had one of the best seasons ever for a Bears receiver. He finished with 1,364 receiving yards. That was fourth-most ever for a Bears player in a single season. Moore also led the Bears in receptions (96), receiving touchdowns (eight) and total touchdowns (nine). He barely missed out on a Pro Bowl appearance, but the season was unquestionably a success for him.

Moore and Fields were on the same page almost from the beginning of OTAs in the spring. After a slow Week 1, Moore had big games in three of the next four games to cement himself as the clear go-to player in the passing attack. He was by far the most consistent receiver on the roster, whether Fields or backup Tyson Bagent was throwing the football.


Following a slow start to his Bears career in 2022, the expectation for Claypool was that he would be a much bigger contributor with a full offseason in the offense. It was clear as early as the season opener that things were not going as planned. Claypool appeared uninterested in blocking during a Week 1 loss to Green Bay. Two weeks after that, he criticized his coaches, stating that they weren’t using him properly within the offense. The Bears benched him and traded him in early October. In all, he played only three games for the Bears in 2023. Including his time in Miami, Claypool finished the season with only eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Mooney caught zero passes in three of the first five games of the season. In all, he finished the season with 31 receptions for 414 yards and one touchdown. All three of those numbers were career lows for Mooney, who is set to become a free agent in March.

The Bears drafted rookie Tyler Scott with a fourth-round pick in April. Scott played in all 17 games, but his integration into the offense was slow. He finished the season with 17 receptions for 168 yards. Velus Jones Jr., a 2022 third-round pick, hardly played on offense and caught only four passes.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II watches as Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney looses control of a Hail Marry pass at the end of the game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Cleveland.

Defining moments

1. 230-yard outbreak: This is an easy choice for No. 1. Moore caught eight passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 5 win over Washington. It snapped a 14-game losing streak for the organization. Moore was a one-man offense that night.

2. Claypool’s outburst: After a tough start to the season, Claypool voiced his displeasure with the way the Bears coaching staff used him. That came on a Friday afternoon at Halas Hall. On Sunday, Claypool did not attend the team’s game against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field and he remained away from the team the following week. Claypool had previously called the 2023 season the “biggest year of my life.”

3. Mooney’s drop: It was a tough year for Mooney, who totaled a 1,000-yard season in 2021. He had a fleeting chance to change the narrative in mid-December at Cleveland. With the Bears somehow back in playoff contention, Mooney had a chance to grab what could’ve been a game-winning Hail Mary. The ball fell into his bread basket, but the 26-year-old receiver couldn’t hang on. To be fair, it would’ve been a tough catch. But Mooney sitting on the ground after the drop is – for better or worse – a lasting memory of this season.

Contract status

Moore is under contract for two more seasons. Scott has three years remaining on his rookie deal and Jones has two years remaining on his. Nsimba Webster is the only other receiver under contract. Mooney, Trent Taylor and Equanimeous St. Brown will be free agents.

Shaw Local Grade: C+

Moore deserves an A+. The Claypool experiment was an F. Mooney was a major letdown. Scott has more to prove. As a unit, this group is thin if Moore isn’t there.


The Bears need to make a splash at wide receiver. That could be in free agency or the draft. They need to find a high-level receiver who can compliment Moore.

This year’s draft is loaded with wide receiver talent. As many as five or six receivers could go in the first round. There will be talented options available in rounds two and three as well. The Bears aren’t going to use the No. 1 overall pick on a receiver, but they could use their No. 9 pick on one.

The Bears do like Mooney, and they could look to bring him back if the price is right, but they should still be looking for more talent in the draft either way.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.