Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he wants an extension. It was reported back in June that Johnson would be hiring a new agent to aid in that pursuit, and he recently retained the services of Chris Ellison, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports.
Biggs does not indicate whether talks have taken place (the earlier report suggested that Johnson was not necessarily pushing for a new deal to be completed before training camp). GM Ryan Poles has expressed a desire to keep Johnson in the fold, but Poles has used second-round picks on corners (Kyler Gordon and Tyrique Stevenson) in back-to-back years, and the team also selected Terell Smith in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
As such, Poles may elect to make Johnson — who has been a regular starter but far from a world-beater in his first three professional seasons — prove himself in his platform year before committing to him on a long-term basis.
Now for more notes from the Windy City:
- Darnell Wright, the Bears’ first-round choice in the 2023 draft, is penciled in as the club’s starting right tackle. Still, the team wanted him to drop weight, and per Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required), Wright has done just that. By conditioning like a wide receiver and hiring a personal chef, the Tennessee blocker shaved 16 pounds off his frame, and Poles noted that Wright aced the OL conditioning test. Wright’s presence could help push former Raiders first-rounder Alex Leatherwood off the roster.
- The Bears recorded just 20 sacks in 2022, the lowest total in the league. While Chicago added some reinformcents in the form of DeMarcus Walker and Rasheem Green in free agency, its pass rush contingent remains uninspiring. We heard last month that Poles may want to add another edge defender, and he recently confirmed that desire (Twitter link via Jahns). However, it sounds as if Poles may be having difficulty enticing free agents to the club. “It takes two to make sure it works out,” he said. Accomplished players like Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, and Robert Quinn — whom the Bears traded to the Eagles in advance of last year’s deadline — remain unsigned.
- We heard back in January that Kevin Warren, the former Big Ten commissioner whom the Bears hired as their new president and CEO role in the wake of Ted Phillips‘ retirement, would focus on the business side of the operation. However, Dan Pompei of The Athletic (subscription required) says, “[i]t would be naive to think [Warren] won’t have much to do with the football team that will play in the stadium he is trying to build.” In an expansive piece that will be of particular interest to Bears fans, Pompei notes that Warren will almost certainly hire the team’s next GM and head coach whenever those hires become necessary, and that he will have input into how Poles and current head coach Matt Eberflus operate. Indeed, Warren plans to watch game tape and will evaluate the players’ attention to detail, energy level, and passion for the game.