CB Jaylon Johnson Targeting Bears Extension

Although the Bears are coming off a three-win season and changed regimes in 2022, members of their 2020 draft class may be on the extension radar. Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney figure to warrant conversations about second Chicago contracts. Jaylon Johnson would like to join that conversation as well.

A starting cornerback throughout his Bears tenure, the former second-round pick said he is “100%” targeting a deal that will allow him to stay in the Windy City. Johnson, Kmet and Mooney each became eligible to sign an extension in January. Since none of the trio entered the NFL as first-rounders, with the Bears not having a 2020 first due to the Khalil Mack trade, the fifth-year option was not in Chicago’s equation this offseason.

Johnson, 24, said he plans to hire an agent to handle these talks soon, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, who adds the Utah product is not pushing for a new deal before training camp. (Mooney hired a new agent this offseason as well.) The Bears punted on a Roquan Smith extension last year, but the team’s Ryan Poles-led front office would not need to consider a top-market contract for any of its newly extension-eligible cogs.

Being charged with five touchdown passes allowed in each of his first two seasons, Johnson cut that number down to one last year. Then again, the Bears did not play with many leads during a 3-14 season, and Johnson was targeted just 51 times — down from 70-plus during the 2020 and ’21 seasons. Pro Football Focus viewed Johnson as a mid-pack cornerback last year, slotting him just outside the top 65 at the position. Pro-Football-Reference’s coverage metrics measured Johnson similarly, though those did credit the 6-foot defender with the lowest passer rating-against figure of his career (94.6).

The Bears do not have much in the way of long-term commitments on their books. They picked up the Panthers’ D.J. Moore contract via trade and signed Tremaine Edmunds and Nate Davis to big-ticket free agency deals. As far as homegrown players, Eddie Jackson represents the only notable defender extension on Chicago’s payroll. Cody Whitehair sits as the team’s lone in-house extension of note on offense. The Bears lead the NFL in cap space presently, with more than $32MM, and are projected to hold more than $96MM in 2024.

At corner, however, Chicago has used second-round picks on Kyler Gordon and Tyrique Stevenson, potentially opening the door to the team being patient regarding a Johnson payment. But the clock is ticking. While players like Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins figure to be on the Bears’ extension radar down the road, the team will need to decide on its 2020 draftees’ futures soon.

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