Jaylon Johnson

Bears GM Ryan Poles speaks definitively about Jaylon Johnson's future with team

Poles left no room for doubt about how he views the talented cornerback's future

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears announced their decisions to retain head coach Matt Eberflus on Wednesday, and it sure sounds like they’re going to keep their top cornerback Jaylon Johnson, too.

Johnson played on the last year of his rookie deal in 2023, and there was rampant speculation from OTAs through Week 18 about his future. Johnson made it clear early in the year that he wanted a contract extension, but a deal never came. Johnson was so discouraged that he eventually requested permission to seek a trade, but that deal never came either. For a bit it seemed like the two sides were headed towards a messy divorce, reminiscent of the Roquan Smith drama in 2022. 

GM Ryan Poles was definitive when talking about the star cornerback’s future with the team in his year-end press conference, however.

“Jaylon’s not going to go anywhere and we’ll work through it to get something done.”

Poles even made his ongoing talks with Johnson’s camp seem cheery.

“We have really good communication. The big thing was just kind of take a break here after the season and then we’ll start talks again. I feel really good about that situation.”

Heading into the season the Bears challenged Johnson to create more takeaways, and he delivered. Over the first three seasons of his career, Johnson only had one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery to his name. In 2023 alone, Johnson intercepted four passes and forced a fumble. He returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown, too.

Pair those numbers with his ability to play sticky, shutdown coverage in pass defense, and you’ve got a guy who deserves to be paid among the elite corners in the league. Johnson said in December that even though he knows a payday is coming, he’d prefer to get a deal done with the Bears. If he gets an offer from the Bears that he’s comfortable signing, he doesn’t need to wait for free agency to open up to see if he can get more on the open market.

“I just couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” Johnson said in December. “It’s easy to say, oh, you want out of somewhere until you get it and then it’s like, ‘Ah, this may not be quite what I want.’ 

“I feel like we’re building something special, too, especially with the guys in the locker room. I don’t think it’s something I can get anywhere else. I would like to stay and continue to build and make this better, and sh–, I want to win some games and get to the playoffs and make a push with the Chicago name, too.”

If contract negotiations don’t work out, the Bears still have other options to retain Johnson for the 2024 season. They could use the franchise tag to keep him under team control for one more season. According to OverTheCap tag projections, Johnson would earn $18,410,000 if the Bears go that route.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us