Bears, CB Jaylon Johnson Conducting Extension Talks

Arriving at a quarterback decision is the top offseason priority for the Bears, and the team could have a firm direction on that front in the near future. Finding a way to retain cornerback Jaylon Johnson is also high on the to-do list for general manager Ryan Poles, though.

When speaking to the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, the latter confirmed that extension talks are still ongoing between the team and Johnson’s camp. Specifically, he noted (via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns) that “conversations are going well” on that front. Obviously aiming to avoid the franchise tag, Poles and the Bears have an offer on the table (h/t Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times).

Johnson enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, recording four interceptions and 10 pass deflections. Those figures represented an uptick in ball production and earned him a Pro Bowl invite as well as second-team All-Pro honors. Of course, the 24-year-old’s market value has seen a healthy increase as a result of his play during his walk year. Trade talks in the build-up to the deadline did not produce an agreement, and Poles has subsequently stated Johnson will remain in Chicago for at least one more season.

That goal could be achieved by using the franchise tag, a rarity for corners but a backup plan which would ensure the former second-rounder does not reach the open market. Johnson has stated a desire to become the league’s highest-paid corner, which would require an AAV of more than $21MM on a new deal. Working out a pact in that price range will be a challenge for both parties, but it is striking that Poles spoke with considerable optimism when providing an update on the situation.

Chicago is once again in position to have considerable spending power in free agency, though retaining Johnson on a lucrative pact will eat into a large portion of the team’s cap space (especially if the $19.8MM tag is used). The window to apply tags is March 5, but Poles’ stance indicates a long-term agreement could be in place by that point.

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