Ryan Poles, general manager of the Getty Bears
The Chicago Bears could be looking at a major shakeup in the secondary by the offseason.
Chicago has been in contract negotiations with cornerback Jaylon Johnson since the offseason, but to no avail. There were legitimate trade talks surrounding Johnson before the NFL trade deadline, but nothing ultimately came of it.
Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon on Saturday, November 11, listed Johnson among the few free agents most likely to change teams in 2024, and went on to say that Johnson has a better chance of playing elsewhere than any other name on the list.
“Shortly before the deadline, the Chicago Bears gave Jaylon Johnson’s agent permission to explore a trade. It didn’t happen, but that’s clearly not a positive sign for his future in Chicago,” Kenyon wrote. “Of all of these outstanding players, Johnson appears to be the most likely candidate to sign elsewhere in free agency. Given that a cornerback is a necessity for virtually every NFL team, Johnson should have no shortage of suitors either.”
Jaylon Johnson is preparing for a career season in his contract year
Johnson put the Bears in a tough spot by having the best season of his career during a contract year.
Spotrac estimates Johnson’s market value to be $17.5 million annually on a four-year deal ($70 million total). The former second-round pick is playing in the final season of his four-year, $6.5 million rookie contract. Chicago has the projected cap space (82.4 million) in 2024 to pull off a deal at that price, but clearly perceives Johnson’s value differently than he does.
It’s hard to argue that Johnson doesn’t deserve a big paycheck given his statistical production, both in counting stats and advanced metrics. According to Pro Football Reference, he has held opposing quarterbacks to a 60% overall completion rate and a 60.4 overall rating on 35 targets. Johnson also recorded 23 tackles, 4 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown in eight games played.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Johnson is currently the No. 6 cornerback in the NFL among 114 players who have played enough snaps to qualify for the position. Johnson was ranked as the league’s No. 2 prospect entering Week 10 and could move again at the conclusion of each game.
Bears can keep Jaylon Johnson without signing him long-term
There is a third possible outcome, other than Johnson leaving Chicago in free agency or the Bears signing the cornerback to a multi-year extension.
General manager Ryan Poles traded away the team’s second-round pick for the second straight year, this time to acquire defensive end Montez Sweat from the Washington Commanders. Like Johnson, Sweat was set to become a free agent next March, but the team signed him to a four-year contract extension worth $98 million.
With this signing, the Bears guarantee that they have the opportunity to apply the franchise tag to someone other than Sweat. Johnson is a prime candidate for this appointment considering his level of production at a top position and his impending free agency.
Affixing the tag to Johnson would allow Chicago to sign him to a one-year contract that would pay the cornerback the average salary of the top five salaries in the NFL at the position, putting him at around $20 million in 2024. would bring dollars.
Max Dible covers the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors for Heavy.com. He covered local and national news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible