2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Jaylon Johnson
Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Jaylon Johnson

by - Senior Writer -

There are a lot of storylines to follow when it comes to the Bears this offseason, but the biggest storyline of all is Justin Fields. Entering his fourth season in the league, there is still a question about whether or not Fields is the guy, and with the Bears holding the No. 1 pick, those questions are louder than ever.

Despite the players believing in Fields and wanting him to stay with the Bears, the front office has made up their mind and will indeed keep their No. 1 pick. Caleb Williams is expected to be that pick, making Fields potential trade bait to acquire additional picks in this year's draft.

Perhaps the next biggest question surrounding the Bears and their roster is what the future holds for CB Jaylon Johnson as he is about to hit the open market for the first time in his career. The former second-round pick from Utah has been the mainstay in the Bears secondary the past four seasons but has been at his best the past two. He has become one of the better lockdown corners in the game and is one of the main reasons why the Bears ranked near the top of the league with 20 interceptions last season.

However, after contract extension talks broke down last offseason and never really picked up again, it becomes a question whether or not Johnson will be here next season. If he isn't, the defense will need to replace a massive loss, as their secondary would be taking a massive hit. Should he stay, not only do you keep one of the better secondaries together, but it also allows you to build around that secondary, as Johnson, Jaquon Brisker, and Kyler Gordon would all be together for at least three more years.

Johnson has made it clear that he wants to remain in Chicago and is hoping contract discussions pick up in the next few weeks. Until they do, we have to assume he will not only test the market, but will be looking for a new home as he will be getting plenty of offers this offseason. When you look at his 2023 season, Johnson had the breakout year the Bears have been waiting for as he hauled in a career-high four interceptions and landed on his first Pro Bowl team.

Add in the fact that he is still only 24 years of age, and Johnson still needs to enter his prime, so there is no telling how good of a defender he can become. When Johnson came into the league, he was graded out as a first-round talent but somehow fell to the second round, where the Bears managed to swoop him up. That alone was a big reason why many felt he was the steal of the draft, and the Bears were very happy to have him.

However, his first two seasons left Chicago fans searching for more as Johnson was solid, but not at the level many expected him to be. Sure, he was among the league leaders in pass breakups, which is a good thing, but he only had one career interception through two seasons, as he left a lot of plays on the field.

Then came year three, where Johnson had arguably his worst season coverage-wise and managed to come away with zero interceptions for the second time in his career. Playing for a contract this past season, Johnson made it a point to become a better player and delivered on the field in a big way.

His 14 games were the second most in his career, while his four interceptions were a career-high, giving him five career interceptions through four seasons. He also broke up 10 additional passes, the most since his 15 as a rookie, so he got back to playing the defense the Bears fell in love with as a rookie.

However, his overall coverage stats stood out the most as he became one of the toughest CBs to complete a pass against this season. Also, Johnson limited his men to less than 8 yards per completion, as he rarely let anyone get behind him for big plays. For a team that has struggled to stop the pass in recent seasons, Johnson helped the Bears get back on track this season and is arguably the most important piece to bring back for 2024.


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