Chicago Bears fans are dying for success after just two playoff appearances in the last 13 seasons. The last decade or so has been rough, to say the least, but there's a sense of optimism heading into an offseason where the Bears not only hold the first overall pick at the 2024 NFL Draft but also have over $49.1 million in cap space, per Spotrac.
Unsurprisingly, Bears fans have fantasized about names that the team could add when free agency opens in March. While it's fun to imagine new faces making their way to the Windy City, Spotrac also lists 16 free agents that general manager Ryan Poles must decide if he wants to keep.
While some players are expendable, Chicago can't afford to let these three Bears hit free agency this offseason.
Bears Can't Afford to Lose CB Jaylon Johnson
The Bears don't have a more important free agent that they must re-sign than Jaylon Johnson.
The fourth-year cornerback was phenomenal during the 2023 season. Starting in all 14 of his appearances, Johnson only allowed a 55.2% completion rate and 50.9 passer rating on 58 targets while also tallying 31 solo tackles, 10 defended passes, and a personal-best four interceptions. His efforts earned him Pro Bowl and All-Pro second-team honors for the first time in his career.
The former Utah defender's incredible campaign doesn't end there, though. Johnson finished his fourth season as Pro Football Focus' top-graded cornerback when it comes to both coverage (91.0) and overall defense (90.8). For comparison, he finished with grades of 65.2 and 62.9, respectively, in 2022.
With his being one of the NFL's top-four CBs, the Bears can't afford to let Johnson walk next month. No matter how much he asks for, it's clear that he's worth every penny.