Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson has requested a trade and the team has given him permission to search for a new home, a source confirmed.
The news, first reported by ESPN late Monday night, comes ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. NFL trade deadline — and after Johnson said Thursday that contract extension talks with the Bears have been “slower than expected.” Bears general manager Ryan Poles does not have to extend Johnson before the deadline, but if Poles thinks the Bears will not get a deal done with Johnson in the future, they could try to get draft capital.
Johnson, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, has made it known for months he would like an extension from the Bears. When asked last week what he was seeking, he said “security.”
“That’s what we play the game for, security,” Johnson said. “A lot of it goes back to respect as well. It’s not just about taking anything as well. You can throw some numbers at somebody and just hope they take anything, but that’s not what I’m looking to do. I’m looking for respect and security at the end of the day.”
Johnson, 24, is the Bears top cornerback. His two interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders on Oct. 22 were just the second and third of his career, but he takes pride in being able to shut down opposing team’s top receivers. In 45 games over four seasons, he has 35 passes defended, 143 tackles and three forced fumbles. He has missed at least a couple of games a year with injury or illness, including six last season.
Poles has built depth at the cornerback position in drafting Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith the last two years. But the Bears still have said many times they value Johnson, including coach Matt Eberflus last week.
“He has done everything we’ve asked,” Eberflus said. “He’s been really good in training camp. He’s worked every single day during that process. He’s done a really good job of improving his craft. He’s always been really good in terms of being sticky at the top of routes and being able to close distances and make plays on the ball. Now he’s starting to make those interceptions, which is positive. And the tackling is better.”
The trade request is the second public one by a Bears player in a little more than a year. In 2022, linebacker Roquan Smith published a letter on social media requesting a trade after contract negotiations didn’t go the way he wanted with the Bears.
Smith played the first two months of the season without a contract, and Poles then traded Smith to the Baltimore Ravens for 2023 second- and fifth-round draft picks and linebacker A.J. Klein.
Smith, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Ravens, was named an All-Pro last season. The Bears then signed linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a four-year, $72 million contract with $50 million guaranteed in the offseason.