The Chicago Bears have a lot of big decisions to make this offseason. There are a few key players whose contracts are up. General manager Ryan Poles has to make a choice to either bring them back or let them walk away. There is also the question of what to do if they have the top overall pick in the draft. Do they keep quarterback Justin Fields or do they trade him and restart the clock at quarterback?
One of the players who can become a free agent is cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He and the Bears were locked in contract negotiations from the beginning of the season. He hoped to have a new deal done early on as the team did with tight end Cole Kmet. However, things did not go as planned.
As the season progressed, the two sides could not agree on the details of a deal. Johnson kept reiterating his opinion that he should be paid like one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
"I know who I am, and I know I can play this game at a high level. And I feel like I deserve to be paid like that. I'm taking that attitude for any team, for any and everybody in the NFL. So I mean if it's with the Bears, then I'll do that."- Jaylon Johnson
Negotiations between Jaylon Johnson and the Chicago Bears don't move along and he requests a trade
Johnson was so upset at how the negotiations were going that he requested a trade just before the trade deadline. Poles granted the request so Johnson's agent went out looking for a deal. However, the deals were not attractive for Poles so nothing was done.
Johnson seemed upset at no deal and no trade getting done. He announced that he would end all negotiations until the offseason. The Bears would have to compete with other teams for his services. That, or slap the much-hated franchise tag on him. It would be for the average of the top-five cornerbacks, but only for one year.
Now, however, Johnson appears to have changed his tune. After hinting that he would end up going elsewhere, he now says something different. This week, he said that his preference is to stay in Chicago. He still stated that if things don't work out he'd explore other options but that his preference is staying in Chicago.
"I want to stay here. I definitely want to get something done [with Chicago] first but at the end of the day, if something doesn't get done, I'm not opposed to any other options. But I would love to stay here, so that's that. I feel like we're building something special, too, especially the guys in the locker room. It's something that I don't think I can get anywhere else. I would like to stay in that and continue to build, make it better."- Jaylon Johnson
It is a good sign that Johnson now says he wants to stay in Chicago. When he last spoke about the situation he seemed like he was through with Chicago. However, this defense has been playing tough for most of the season.
The Bears got off to a rough start this season. They lost their first four games, giving up 34.2 points per game. They also forced just 2 turnovers. Things have been completely different in the past 10 games, though. They have a 5-5 record and have given up just 19.2 points per game. In that period, the defense forced 21 turnovers. An amazing 13 of them came in their past four games.
Johnson apparently sees what the Chicago Bears are building and wants to be a part of it.
It looks as if the Bears want him to stay put. Poles spoke about how the negotiations haven't gone as planned. However, he said he is open to getting something done. Despite not drafting him he sees how talented Johnson is and how great a season he is having.
Johnson is having a career season. He has four interceptions, which is tied for the team lead and tied for the fourth-most in the NFL. He is among the league leaders in separation, quarterback rating, and touchdowns given up. Quarterbacks have completed only 54.5 percent of their passes, average just 4.9 yards per target, and have a rating of just 49.7.
Hopefully, a new deal gets done. Both sides want to get something done. The fans want to get something done. He is one of the top cornerbacks in the league and the Chicago Bears cannot afford to let him go if they want to continue to build up the defens