Chicago Bears free agency update: Bears sign TE Gerald Everett to 2-year, $12 million deal

Former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Gerald Everett makes a catch prior to a game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. The Chicago Bears and former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Gerald Everett have agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract that guarantees $6.1 million, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

On the second day of NFL free agency, the Bears found help at tight end. The Bears are expected to sign free agent tight end Gerald Everett, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Everett played for new Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron with the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. He spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. Last year with the Chargers, Everett totaled 51 catches for 411 yards and three touchdowns.

Waldron was Everett’s tight ends coach when Everett was a rookie, after the Rams selected him with a second-round pick in 2017. The Rams promoted Waldron to passing game coordinator in 2018. He left Los Angeles to become the offensive coordinator in Seattle in 2021 – and Everett followed him. Everett signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks ahead of the 2021 season.

Everett’s contract with the Bears is reportedly a two-year contract worth $12 million. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the contract could be worth up to $14 million with bonuses and includes $6.1 million in guarantees.

The Bears lacked a reliable second tight end last season. Tight end Cole Kmet is the only tight end on the roster who played any snaps on offense. So it’s not a surprise to see the Bears in the tight end market.

Under Waldron, Seattle consistently used multiple tight ends. Everett gives the Bears a proven pass catcher who can play alongside Kmet.

The NFL’s free agent negotiating period began Monday, but none of the reported deals can become official until 3 p.m. Wednesday at the earliest. General manager Ryan Poles and the Bears also signed a new starting running back in D’Andre Swift on Monday.

Darnell Mooney signs with Atlanta, per report

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney looks to pick up yardage after a wide receiver screen during their game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

As expected, former Bears receiver Darnell Mooney has a new home.

The 26-year-old Mooney is expected to sign a three-year, $39 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal includes $26 million in guaranteed money. Mooney will join new Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins in Atlanta. Cousins and the Falcons agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract on Monday.

Mooney spent his first four NFL seasons in Chicago. The Bears drafted him out of Tulane with a fifth-round pick in 2020. Mooney immediately became a contributor, totaling 61 receptions for 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. The following season in 2021, Mooney had a career-best 1,055 receiving yards.

But Mooney’s contributions to the offense dropped when the Bears fired head coach Matt Nagy and brought in a new coaching staff with a new offensive scheme. In two years under head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Mooney never even reached 500 receiving yards in a season.

Last season, he finished with 31 catches for 414 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. The Bears traded for star receiver DJ Moore a year ago and Mooney’s opportunities dried up.

Mooney’s poor 2023 season didn’t appear to affect his value too much in free agency. A $13 million annual salary is pretty strong for a receiver who caught only 31 passes last season.

In Atlanta, Mooney will team up with Cousins and a talented group of skill position players, which includes Drake London at receiver, Bijan Robinson at running back and Kyle Pitts at tight end. Mooney is also signing with a Falcons organization that employs former Bears general manager Ryan Pace, who drafted Mooney in 2020. Pace is the director of player personnel in Atlanta.

Bears sign former Packers safety Jonathan Owens

Days after signing free agent safety Kevin Byard, the Bears added another safety.

Former Packers safety Jonathan Owens is coming to Chicago, according to the NFL Network. Owens played in all 17 games last year for the Packers, starting 11 at safety. He spent the previous four seasons prior to that with the Houston Texans.

Owens is married to four-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles. The couple married last year. Biles was frequently spotted at Packers games last season. She won gold in the all-around at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

With the addition of Owens, the Bears now have Owens and Byard joining returning safeties Jaquan Brisker and Elijah Hicks. Owens, 28, began last season as a special teamer, but moved into a starting role at safety in Week 8. He totaled 84 combined tackles, three passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.

Aaron Jones signs with Vikings in NFC North shakeup

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones coasts in for a touchdown ahead of Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson during their game Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The running back market continues to fascinate. In the NFC North, the Bears kicked things off by signing Swift to a three-year, $24.5 million contract. The Lions drafted Swift with a second-round pick in 2020. He played three seasons in Detroit before the Lions dealt him to Philadelphia last year. Swift is expected to be the lead back in Chicago.

Later on Monday, Green Bay signed free agent running back Josh Jacobs to a four-year, $48 million contract. In a corresponding move, the Packers cut veteran running back Aaron Jones. The 29-year-old Jones has terrorized the NFC North division during seven seasons in Green Bay. Four times he totaled more than 1,100 yards from scrimmage in a season.

Jones, however, isn’t going far.

Jones is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings, per the NFL Network. The deal is reportedly worth $7 million.

Three of the four teams in the NFC North have added a new starting running back. Only the Lions, who are in good shape with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, have stood pat.

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.