Thursday, April 18, 2024

Here’s The Official Date We’ll Finally Get Answers On Jaylon Johnson


A common saying among people in the sports business is “Deadlines spur action.” In other words, if you want a resolution on something, fix a hard deadline to it. That will be the case for several teams over the next couple of weeks. According to the NFL off-season schedule, the franchise tag window officially opened today, February 20th. Teams now have two weeks until March 5th to determine if any players on their current roster will receive the designation. For the Chicago Bears, only one name has that potential. It is Jaylon Johnson.

The cornerback finally achieved his breakthrough season in 2023, securing four interceptions and earning Pro Bowl honors alongside teammate Montez Sweat. Unsurprisingly, he intends to use that success to gain leverage in his contract negotiations with the Bears. It’s how the business works. GM Ryan Poles has made it clear he wants to keep Johnson. It comes down to finding the numbers that will satisfy both parties. Right now, the goal is to try to get a deal done before the deadline on March 5th.

If not enough progress is made, the Bears will have a decision. Either tag Johnson to keep him secure for another season while continuing to negotiate, or let him walk in free agency.

The Bears should have no trouble keeping Jaylon Johnson.

They have over $60 million in cap space. Top cornerbacks make around $20-21 million per year. Chicago can absorb that contract and still have enough money left over to do some spending in free agency. Everything depends on how high Johnson wants to go. If he’s seeking to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league, then the Bears must top $21 million, currently held by Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander. Given Johnson’s value, it might seem like a no-brainer to get this done. However, there is one sticking point.

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He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. Since arriving in the NFL in 2020, Jaylon Johnson has missed 14 games with various injuries, particularly shoulder ones. Poles may try to use that fact as a way to lower the price somewhat. It is another reminder of how intricate these negotiations can be. The good news is both sides appear to be in communication. Constant dialogue is crucial to getting a deal done. Keep the calendar circled. We should have answers early next month.


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Feb 21, 2024 9:47 am

– this makes total sense! I would be down with that, but I don’t know that he would accept it. I think the transition tag is your best bet. See what someone on the open market is willing to offer him, match if under 20m per season, and let him walk if it’s over that.

Feb 21, 2024 6:38 am

Pretty simple math here. Making the contract, incentive laden using games played as the carrot. If he plays 75-90% he makes X amt of money. If he pays over 90% , then he make Y amt of money with an additional bonus if he plays all games. If he doesn’t like it, he can be tagged. Or he can exit the system.

Slip Knotz
Slip Knotz
Feb 20, 2024 8:30 pm

@Plank I like your description. This is a balancing act for the GM and JJ. The GM has a duty to pay the proper going rate for a player when he performs. JJ was struggling to get noticed until Sweat and the D arrived this year. So JJ was part of that but he wasn’t a star before that right? Don’t get me wrong on this! JJ is a great player and I like him and hope he stays. But if JJ makes ultimatums then the GM has a duty to look for other solutions correct? So maybe at 23M… Read more »

I dug Plank
I dug Plank
Feb 20, 2024 3:36 pm

Hopefully JJ and the Bears can work together for the benefit of both parties. If not I agree with the tag route and work on the maturation of Gordon and Stevenson for ’25 as outside corners and keep drafting young talent for the nickel. T Smith also showed promise. I don’t envy Poles, tough job balancing your playmakers and the salary cap

Feb 20, 2024 1:46 pm

Hopefully they can get JJ locked in for $18-20 mill a year. He earned it. A lot of ppl seem to think it’s easy to replace a good corner… if that were the case then the top ones wouldn’t make $20+ mill a year. Elite level cover corners are NOT easy to find.

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