When discussing Chicago Bears trade possibilities, most fans are thinking about player acquisitions. Discussions often center on pass rush help and the like. It’s not hard to understand why. This roster needs help. It doesn’t feel like they’re in a position to unload players they already have. Then again, it’s important to remember GM Ryan Poles has already proven that incorrect multiple times. His most recent example was sending Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens for 2nd and 5th round picks.
That is why it’s unwise to presume he won’t do it again. The question is whether there is another player on the roster who fits a similar description. One name that stands out is Jaylon Johnson. The warning signs are there. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, he didn’t have an overly productive 2022, this regime didn’t draft him, and now he’s staying away from the OTAs. Johnson was one of two players absent from practices that didn’t have a health reason. Though the OTAs are voluntary, it was the first warning sign of somebody approaching a contract standoff.
The Chicago Bears don’t seem eager to extend him.
If anything, it feels more like they’re preparing for his eventual departure. They drafted Kyler Gordon in the 2nd round last year, which didn’t raise any alarms at the time. That changed in a big way when Poles added Tyrique Stevenson (2nd round) and Terell Smith (5th round) last month. Both are considered outside corners, which is the position Johnson plays. While the Bears may not have drafted them with the express intent of pushing him out of town, they now have insurance in the event he tries to press his case on the contract front.
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Extending Johnson is something the Chicago Bears are open to. However, they aren’t going to be held hostage in negotiations. The 24-year-old doesn’t have much leverage. While his coverage skills were solid last year, this coaching staff grades more on turnovers and tackling. Johnson had zero interceptions last year and only 35 tackles. Gordon had three interceptions and 71 tackles. Throw in the fact that Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney are also competing for extensions, and it feels like Johnson could be the odd man out.