Bears CB Jaylon Johnson on potential of free agency: 'I just couldn’t see myself anywhere else'

Though three games remain in the Chicago Bears’ regular season, Jaylon Johnson’s campaign has easily already been the best in his four-year career.

His career-high four interceptions and career-best 91.3 PFF overall grade attest to that.

However, it’s also been Johnson’s most tumultuous season, one in which he was absent at the onset of organized team activities, was the topic of trade chatter, shouted it out that deserved “to be paid,” and sought a change of scenery.

Despite the Chi-Town rollercoaster, Johnson is now making it known that he wants to stay put in the Windy City.

“I want to stay here,” Johnson said Wednesday, via The Associated Press. “I definitely want to get something done (here) first. But at the end of the day, if something doesn’t get done, then I’m not opposed to any other options. But I would love to stay here. So that’s that.”

The 5-9 Bears aren’t technically out of the playoff hunt, but as the unlucky 13th seed in the NFC, they need next door to a miracle to find their way into the postseason. Thus, Johnson has three more games to add on to a career-best season and to drive up his free-agent price tag.

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His 31 tackles and 10 pass breakups could well surpass his previous highs (46 tackles in 2021, 15 pass breakups in 2020) in those statistical categories, too. At 24, the 2020 second-rounder is wrapping up the final season of his rookie deal and would most certainly draw a lucrative deal in free agency.

Though the Bears have largely struggled, Johnson has largely shined. His play has been Pro Bowl caliber, as his aforementioned PFF grade is tops among cornerbacks in the NFL.

Amid this sensational season, Johnson has been clamoring for an extension.

It was one that general manager Ryan Poles said the parties were close to achieving just days before the Halloween trade deadline. However, no extension was had and Johnson requested a trade. No trade was had, either.

So, Johnson has gone about his business in exceptional form.

He would like to follow suit in 2024 and beyond with the Bears.

He is one of many quandaries ahead for a franchise rife with uncertainty.

Will Matt Eberflus be back as the Bears’ head coach? Will Justin Fields be back as Chicago’s franchise quarterback? Will Johnson, now among the best corners in the league, be back?

That remains to be seen, but he surely wants to.

“I just couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” Johnson said. “It’s easy to say, oh, you want out of somewhere until you get it and then it’s like, ‘Ah, this may not be quite what I want.’ But I would say for me, I want to stay here and I want to not make that transition now. I feel like we’re building something special, too, especially with the guys in the locker room. I don’t think it’s something I can get anywhere else. I would like to stay and continue to build and make this better, and (expletive), I want to win some games and get to the playoffs and make a push with the Chicago name, too.”

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