With the NFL trade deadline just over two weeks away, reports and rumors have started to swirl around the Bears. The first big one came earlier this week when Courtney Cronin reported that the Bears are gauging interest around the league in two key defensive players: Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson.
Just because the team is gauging interest doesn’t mean a deal is imminent. The team could just be doing due diligence in case they nose dive ahead of the trade deadline. If the team does move either player it would send a huge shockwave through the Bears locker room, but Darnell Mooney said players can’t worry about trade reports or rumors.
“Rumors are always happening,” Mooney said. “But that’s the league. Things happen. You’re not really safe until the first week of November.”
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The Bears dealt with some franchise-altering trades last season, including the deal that sent Roquan Smith to the Ravens. The team also had to say goodbye to Robert Quinn, who was admired as a veteran leader. The two moves happened within a week of each other last year, and noticeably altered the locker room.
“It definitely was a stab in the heart,” said Mooney. “Like, dang, we just lose a brother, but at the end of the day you still have to move on, and go out there and play on Sunday.”
If the Bears sell again this year and move Johnson or Jackson, it would hurt just as badly.
“Jaylon’s one of the best corners in the league,” Mooney said. “You trade that away, that’s crazy. Then you’ve got BoJack [Jackson], I mean he’s been dealing with some injuries, but BoJack is still BoJack. He’s still really good and you can see he’s missing when he’s not out there. It would be another stab in the heart.”
Mooney is no stranger to trade rumors himself. He recalled hearing his name floated in potential deals when the Bears entered the season with DJ Moore and Chase Claypool, and it appeared Mooney could be in line to be third in the wide receiver pecking order. He said all he could do was prepare for the move if a deal did go through, and try to balance the two mindsets of staying or going.
“It’s definitely up and down,” Mooney said.
Johnson is one of the premiere coverage corners in the league and he’s playing on the last year of his contract. It’s been made clear that the Bears want to see an uptick in his takeaway production before signing him to a new deal. So far, Johnson has forced one fumble over two games. The Bears drafted two cornerbacks this year, Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith, and each rookie has played well this season, so the Bears could see them as potential replacements if they opt not re-sign Johnson.
Jackson has been one of the most electric players for the Bears since the team drafted him in 2017. He had a couple of down seasons after receiving Pro Bowl nods in 2018 and 2019, and an All-Pro honor in 2018, but Jackson was in the middle of a renaissance season last year before he suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 12. Jackson appeared to be fully healthy and ready to go at the outset of this season, but an injury to the same foot affected by last year’s Lisfranc injury has kept him sidelined for the last three games. Jackson has 14 career interceptions to go with 10 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Further, Jackson has scored six defensive touchdowns over his tenure with the Bears.