It’s hard to believe that Bears’ CB Jaylon Johnson only turned 24 this April — if you’re like me, it feels like he’s been in the league too long to be that young.
And yet, it is. The 24-year-old former 2nd round pick just wrapped his 3rd season as a Chicago Bear & his 2nd as the team’s best cornerback, thus a question arises as he enters the final year of his rookie deal: Should Ryan Poles offer him a contract extension?
You’d think that extending a player like Johnson would be a no-brainer — he’s experienced as a CB1 and has already performed well in the role, he’s wildly young, and the Bears have so much cap space in 2024 and 2025 that to not extend a young player at a key position like Corner feels like irresponsible roster management. After all, the best way to combat the NFL’s Wide Receiver arms race is to stack talent at DB, right? Why create a roster hole you’d need to spend resources to fill when you’ve already got a CB1 in-house?
Like most things in this world, Johnson’s payday isn’t a question of talent — this is about money. Jaylon Johnson (who recently fired his agent) likely wants to be paid like a top-shelf CB1 (~$20M/Year), but unfortunately for Jaylon recent Corner contracts have not made his value a friendly figure to calculate. In fact, currently there are:
- Only 5 total Corners making $19.4+ Million per year
- Only 8 total Corners making $15M+ per year
- Only 17 total Corners making $10M+ per year
(A snippet of the current CB market is pictured below — click to enlarge)
As such, it’s clear that the NFL recognizes a clear distinction between a “High End CB1”, a “Mid-Table CB1”, and “Everyone Else” (including players Rookies like Derek Stingley Jr, the 23rd highest paid CB in football, as well as CB2s, etc). Johnson currently belongs in that “Mid-Table CB1” category, but would he sign an extension of $12M-$15M per year if it was offered to him? Or would he bet on himself in 2023 by playing out his final year? Personally, I have no idea.
As Training Camp gets underway, I’m excited to find out.
Today’s Daily Media fits in perfectly with this discussion as I just finished up a new Video Breakdown that covers this topic. I also expand on:
- Jaylon Johnson’s strengths as a player
- The Weaknesses in Johnson’s game
- Johnson’s scheme fit within the Bears’ defense
- How Johnson’s value fits into the NFL Corner market landscape
Film study tends to work better within the video medium, plus I think it helps us better understand the players we’ll be watching each Sunday, so I encourage you to give the first few minutes of this video the old college try! I would love to hear what you think about it — I came away really happy with how it turned out.
Your Turn: If you got to choose, would you extend Jaylon Johnson? Why or why not?