As the NFL trade deadline approaches, speculation is beginning to rise about the status of some players being moved. Two players in particular are potentially in the midst of their final games with the Bears.
"Darnell Mooney and Jaylon Johnson are in the final year of their rookie contracts and extension talks with both have not gone far," Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team recently wrote. "Chicago is having another tough season, and unless it changes its approach in contract talks, considering a trade for one of them could be an option."
The Bears are 1-5 at this writing. It's all but likely names will be moved before the trade deadline to maximize value before heading into another imperative offseason.
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Before the season, both Johnson and Mooney did not come to agreements on the extensions they were eligible for from their rookie deals. Cole Kmet, on the other hand, inked a four-year deal worth $50 million before the season.
Ryan Poles and the front office have very little reason to buy and try their hand at trading for players on the block. The likelihood of the Bears reaching the playoffs --- or obtaining any success, for that matter --- is slim. Therefore, extracting value from their expiring contracts makes the most sense.
They took the same path last season by trading Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn to the Ravens and Eagles, respectively. Smith and the Bears failed to agree to terms with a new contract, so the front office earned value for him in return, instead of letting him walk away in free agency for nothing.
That could be the reality for some Bears players over the next two weeks. And they're not oblivious to that stark reality.
"I'm not oblivious. I'm not blind. I'm not exempt at the end of the day," Johnson said on 670 the Score with Parkins & Spiegel. "If you can trade Roqun [Smith] away, you could trade Robert Quinn away, man, you can trade anybody away.
"At the end of the day, the Bears gotta do what's best for them. I gotta do what's best for me... Of course, I've been saying from Day 1 I want to stay here. This is my first team, my home. I bought a house here. All my plans were to stay in Chicago. At the end of the day, it's not about feelings, it's not about what I want. For me, it's continue to go out there, put great film on tape. And shoot, really whatever happens after that happens."
For the record, Johnson's nebulous status with the Bears doesn't mean he's performing poorly. In fact, in the four games Johnson's played this season, he's allowed a 52.9% completion percentage to his assignments --- the lowest mark of his career. His 9.9 yards allowed per completion is also the lowest mark by a large margin.
Mooney, on the other hand, has been living in DJ Moore's shadow this season. He's averaging a paltry 25.3 yards per game with one touchdown and a subpar 52% catch rate. His struggles have persisted over the last two seasons.
Another name to watch is Eddie Jackson, who the Bears have reportedly floated around the league to gauge value and interest for the veteran safety. Remember, Jackson is weeks away from being on the wrong side of 30-years-old. He also had a two-year stretch without an interception between 2020-21.
The status of any Bears player is all speculation, of course. But as this season continues to head south, it's only sensible for the front office to salvage any value they can get in return.