Jaylon Johnson is one of the best remaining players on the Chicago Bears defense. His stats may not show it, but his coverage is one of the main reasons this team still has a top 15 unit against the pass despite no pass rush. Johnson himself has said he believes he deserves Pro Bowl consideration. Playing cornerback in the NFL is about more than interceptions. Unfortunately, he understands playing for a 3-10 team makes that unlikely. So he’ll have to content himself by earning the respect of his peers. He clearly has from Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback once again found a way to win last Sunday with an 18-point 4th quarter. A timely ground attack and some big defensive stops helped him out. Anybody who watched the game would’ve noticed that Rodgers actually didn’t play well. Not by usual standards and especially not by his own. A win is a win, but this further confirmed that something is off about the 39-year-old. When asked after the game why he didn’t have more success, he acknowledged the Bears secondary played better than expected. No one better than Johnson.
“They played a lot of coverage, a lot of two-high,” Rodgers said. “Mixed some coverage up, held the shell to the very end most of the time. Jaylon (Johnson) is a premier player, but the other young guys played pretty well. Got to give them credit. There were multiple times where it felt like getting out of the pocket, somebody is going to come open. They locked down our guys. They definitely deserve credit for that.”
Jaylon Johnson might be the first to get a new contract.
The Bears now have four key players seeking extensions this off-season: wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, tight end Cole Kmet, and Johnson himself. Going by proven play on the field, it’s looking like Johnson is the one who might become the team’s priority to lock up first. It will be an interesting negotiation. While his play has been very good, his lack of productivity and no Pro Bowl nods will be something that may knock down his price somewhat. He might be looking at something between $16-17 million per year.
Chicago can certainly afford it. They have boatloads of salary cap space coming their way. Poles has said his primary goal is to develop and pay homegrown players. Jaylon Johnson would be the first draft pick by the team to earn a second contract since Eddie Jackson. It would be a great message to the rest of the locker room that they’re serious about this, especially after trading away Roquan Smith in October. Much of this will depend on how much money Johnson seeks when the time comes.