The discourse around Jaylon Johnson's pending contract extension with the Bears has been in full force since the NFL trade deadline approached.
It seems fair to say Johnson will not be traded at the deadline, at least. That could probably be said about most players rumored on the Bears' trade block at this point.
But Johnson's not guaranteed the contract extension he's looking for from his native team.
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"We’re in a phase where we want to retain homegrown talent," Ryan Poles said on ESPN 1000 before Sunday night's game. "That’s important. But again, it takes two sides to make something happen, so we’ll see if that works out."
ESPN's Courtney Cronin said Poles reinforced the question "Can the team and the player find common ground that makes sense all the way around?" Reading between the lines, it sounds like Johnson's camp and the Bears haven't met on a figure for the cornerback.
That question reared its head during the Bears' discussions with Roquan Smith during the 2022 offseason. Remember how those discussions finished? The front office traded Smith to the Baltimore Ravens at the trade deadline.
That's where Johnson's situation grows more interesting. What if he and the Bears can't find common ground for a new contract? Would the Bears look to trade him before the deadline? It's possible they're optimistic about signing him in the offseason. But that's a risky move, working under the assumption Johnson would be a hot commodity on the open market.
There's no question the Bears should return Johnson.
He's one of the league's most elite cornerbacks; those are hard to come by. As Poles mentioned, he's a homegrown product with a desire to remain in Chicago. Johnson told 670 The Score he bought a house in Chicago and his plan was always to remain with the Bears.
This season, he's having a career year. Yes, he missed two games with a hamstring earlier this year. But when he's on the field, he's a menace to opposing teams. His opponent's quarterback passer rating is a paltry 24.7 --- that's uncanny defense.
Last Sunday, Johnson underlined his need for a new contract, recording two interceptions --- one for a touchdown. He also has 15 tackles, three passes defended and one forced fumble. He's only allowed 47.8% of his opponent's targets to earn completions.
Keep an eye out for Johnson's contract status as the trade deadline comes and goes.