The Chicago Bears have three key players entering the season on the final year of their rookie contracts as wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, and cornerback Jaylon Johnson are all set to become free agents at the end of the season.
One thing that has been established over the course of the past month is that General Manager Ryan Poles views both Mooney and Johnson as leaders among the team and that the team has an interest in signing both players to long-term deals.
Unlike last season, when the focus was on tearing the roster down, Poles appears to have shifted his priority to ensuring that the team leaders are locked up to long-term deals.
The first sign of the shift in priority was earlier this off-season when the Bears signed tight end Cole Kmet to a four-year contract extension.
Johnson may not be far behind.
While speaking with reporters, Johnson mentioned that the possibility remains that he has a new deal in place before the team opens the season against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field.
There appears to be momentum for a long-term contract extension between the Bears and Jaylon Johnson.
This is great news for the Bears.
The contract drama between linebacker Roquan Smith and Poles dominated the early parts of last season for the Bears when it became clear in August that the two sides were barreling toward a departure. The Bears traded Smith to the Baltimore Ravens ahead of the NFL Trade Deadline last season.
Johnson’s update is the exact opposite of what happened between the Bears and Smith last season. While Johnson does not have the interception numbers over the course of his career, look no further than the fact that the league’s great quarterbacks often avoid throwing toward his side when facing the Bears.
Johnson being locked up for the long term will be a great sign for the Bears’ secondary as the unity enters the season with the chance of being the strongest position group on the team.