Johnson said Wednesday he wants to remain in Chicago for the long term even though he and general manager Ryan Poles remain in a contract standoff with his rookie deal set to expire after the season. He also acknowledged the Bears could place the franchise tag on him and essentially take him off the market.
“I’m not asking to change the market or break records," Johnson said. “I’m not asking for that. But I’m also not just going to take anything. ‘Like, OK, you deem me as this so I’m this.’”
"No, I'm not going to take one man’s word and just put that viewpoint on myself. It’s a balance of being professional, being respectful to what his goals are and what he’s trying to do, but also what my goals are and what I’m trying to do. That’s about it.”
Johnson got a chance to shop around prior to Tuesday's trade deadline. He felt “for sure” he would be in a different uniform and was disappointed a deal did not get completed.
“Nothing I want has happened so far as contract, trade, anything like that,” he said. “But I mean, it’s not, I feel like there’s something bigger. Maybe the timing wasn’t there.”
Poles said he thought they were close to a contract extension after a meeting Sunday in Los Angeles, where the Bears played the Chargers that night, and a deal would be reached “in a matter of days.” That changed Monday, when Johnson's representatives said they wanted to explore a trade.
Poles said the Bears would have needed a late first- or early second-round pick in return.
“I don't want to lose Jaylon Johnson,” Poles said. “If I were to lose Jaylon Johnson, I would like to have a high percentage of hitting on another Jaylon Johnson.”
Poles said he and Johnson's representatives have not exchanged final numbers on an extension. So he's not sure exactly what the gap is.
“We are still open to getting a contract done, and I’m going to follow Jaylon’s lead on how he wants to go about doing that,” he said.
Johnson hasn't put up eye-popping statistics, with just three interceptions in 45 games. But part of that is teams are generally trying to avoid throwing his way. He picked off two passes in a Week 7 win over Las Vegas.
Johnson said he got a good sense of his worth with his agent being allowed to talk to other teams before the trade deadline. He said the value they placed on him was “in some cases” quite a bit different from what Chicago was offering.
“I feel like for one I’ve played my best year that I’ve played at the Bears, for one,” Johnson said. “Two, I feel like my impact is greater that it has been. Arguably, I feel like I’m the best corner in the game right now.”
Another wrinkle to this is the Bears acquiring pass rusher Montez Sweat from Washington for a 2024 second-round pick on Tuesday. He also has an expiring deal.
Johnson said he would have been offended had the Bears agreed to an extension with Sweat as part of the trade.
Otherwise, he insisted it wouldn't bother him if they got a extension done with Sweat before him.
Sweat, meanwhile, thinks he'll be ready to play Sunday. But when it came to a potential extension, he had little to say.
“I’m sure my agents are talking about it, my agents and them are talking about something,” he said. "But I’m not really in any of it right now. I’m just ready to get to work.”
Poles said he's “hoping it won’t take too long” to reach an agreement.
The Bears paid a big price to get Sweat and presumably wouldn't want him as a rental for the rest of the season, considering they're in last place in the NFC North with a 2-6 record.
The Bears, of course, had a big need for a pass rusher. They're last in the NFL with 10 sacks — no other team has fewer than 15 — after finishing with a league-worst 20 a year ago. Sweat has 6 1/2 this season and 35 1/2 in his career.
“I think all that goes into play, from financial to the people around me to the players in the building, all that type of stuff like that,” Sweat said. "I just got here. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to lay my head at tonight, so, yeah.”
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