Bears, Jaylon Johnson Discussing Extension

Despite not being on the trade block, Jaylon Johnson‘s future with the Bears has been uncertain throughout 2023. The contract-year corner recently spoke about his situation, and revealed that more clarity on his fate in 2024 and beyond may be coming.

Johnson made it clear this offseason that he wanted to re-up with the Bears, but little progress has been made on contract talks. The 24-year-old changed agents in advance of the regular season, one in which he has maintained his starting role as part of a young Chicago CB contingent. Johnson had a career day in Week 7 with a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six. His ‘money counting’ touchdown celebration led to questions regarding whether or not it was a reference to his contract status, which he later answered emphatically in the affirmative.

Bears GM Ryan Poles has been willing to see the 2023 season play out in Johnson’s case, and the presence of recent draftees (Kyler GordonTyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith) at the CB spot have threatened to make Johnson expendable. However, a recent report indicated Chicago is not interested in seeking out a trade partner for the Utah product. Johnson has nevertheless pondered about the possibility of being dealt ahead of the October 31 trade deadline, something which would become a moot point if extension talks produced an agreement. Slight progress appears to have been made on that front.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a process, it’s a process,” Johnson said during an appearance on 670 The Score’s Parkins & Spiegel Show“But things are, I would say, starting to hopefully, to ramp up. We’ll see kind of where things go, especially in this next week… Because I mean, to me, it’s different and just talking and really just, ‘OK, well, let’s try to figure something out, let’s try to figure something out’ versus things getting done. So I’m just looking forward to seeing what actually gets done.”

As his remarks demonstrate, nothing is imminent with respect to a deal being worked out. Still, the fact that the parties are discussing a deal with only one week remaining until the trade deadline confirms a desire exists on both sides to continue their relationship beyond 2023. Johnson has not only doubled his interception total for his career compared to where it stood before last week’s game, he has posted a personal best in completion percentage allowed (47.8%) through five games played. He could thus be a core player for the rebuilding Bears for years to come if an agreement can be reached on a multi-year pact.

Failing that, the franchise tag could come into play. The one-year tender would check in at a cost of roughly $19.5MM, and the team’s preference would no doubt be a long-term contract carrying a lower AAV than that. If talks with Johnson are indeed picking up, it will be interesting to see how much progress is made in the coming days as the Bears prepare for the trade deadline.

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