Jaylon Johnson

Jaylon Johnson projects he doubled his contract value from initial conversations

The Bears cornerback signed a deal worth $76 million this offseason

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This offseason, Jaylon Johnson got paid.

The Bears' All-Pro, Pro-Bowl cornerback inked a four-year extension with the team worth $76 million, earning him the sixth-highest guaranteed money for cornerbacks in the NFL.

But from the initial conversations, to the day they agreed on the extension, Johnson believes he doubled his money.

"Definitely not $15 million in total. If we're talking about APY that might've been a little closer," Johnson said on 670 The Score. "But no, I would say really double. Yeah, I would probably say about double."

Remember, it wasn't a smooth negotiation period for Johnson and the Bears. Both sides tried to make ends meet on an extension during the season, but couldn't shake hands. At one point, Johnson requested a trade near the deadline to force upper management's hand.

They agreed to negotiate during the offseason and let Johnson play out the final year of his rookie deal.

That's where he doubled the value.

Johnson finished with four interceptions (career-high), one touchdown and 10 passes defended. His allowed completion rate finished at a career-high, too, allowing just 55.2% of passes completed to his assignments. Johnson finished inarguably as one of the league's top corners.

Towards the end of the season, Johnson told 670 The Score he would be asking for more than he initially requested on his next contract at the beginning of the season. In theory, the Bears could've gotten Johnson at a discount. But because they couldn't agree on a deal before Johnson's career-best season, they would have to come up with his new price.

"I feel the same way you feel," Johnson said in December. "At the end of the day, I feel like at times you gotta be more realistic with your circumstances, with your situation and things you have put out there or you haven't put out there. I feel like realistically after this season I feel like there's not a thing that you can say that I'm not doing.

"After this year you can't say I can't cover at a high level. You can't say that I can't take the ball away. You can't say that to me that I can't tackle. Realistically, what is it that I can't do that deserves top pay?"

Before this season, the Bears wanted to see Johnson make more plays on the ball. In the 2023-24 season, Johnson's season-high interception mark stood at one from the 2021 season. The Bears wanted to see more turnovers from Johnson's side of the field.

Remember, this is partly why the Bears couldn't make things work with Roquan Smith. Not known as a turnover-centric linebacker, either, the Bears challenged him to force more turnovers. When he couldn't, that's when things got hairy in their contract negotiations.

Matt Eberflus wants his defense to be a turnover machine. And if you can't contribute to that vision, you won't get paid. But Johnson proved himself as a piece in that machine, although he concedes the Bears were all too familiar with his game before he notched four interceptions.

"I know when I knew who I was. And honestly, they knew as well," Johnson said. "I think there was some more that needed to be proven. And I think I went out there and did it. I don't think there was ever a question of whether I can play the game at a high level. I feel like that was evident since I came into the league. ... I think just adding those turnovers and making some of those spectacular plays that helped us win ball games; I think that 'it' factor that I haven't had through my career, I feel like allowed me to double the value a little bit."

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