This is undoubtedly a big season for the Chicago Bears and a player like cornerback Jaylon Johnson. But he’s not letting a potentially volatile situation weigh on him.
Johnson, 24, is heading into the final year of his rookie contract.
“It used to be a lot of pressure,” Johnson admitted on ESPN’s Keyshawn, J Will, & Max on June 1. “Going into my third year, I felt like that was a year for me to put myself out there to be able to have a new contract, to be able to re-up. I think for me, it’s just about going out and being who I am. And, for me I know I can be a dominant corner – I am a dominant corner in this league.”
Jaylon Johnson Feeling ‘No Pressure’ Ahead of Contract Season
As a former second-round pick (No. 50 overall, 2020), there is no fifth-year option to pick up. Johnson and the Bears will have to agree on a new deal before the end of the year. Otherwise, they risk the fourth-year man out of Utah walking for nothing in free agency.
Johnson missed the final three weeks of the 2022 season with a broken ring finger. But he recently declared himself “100% back” in an interview with ABC 30 sports anchor Alec Nolan on May 21.
Bears’ Jaylon Johnson Makes Bold Declaration Ahead of Critical Season: ‘100%’
Johnson has been absent from OTAs to this point.
But he attributed it to his many charitable endeavors including Kevvy’s Vision Project.
“Just finding ways to continue to do my job at a higher rate, continue to be a better teammate, continue to find ways to win,” Johnson told the KJM crew. “At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do.”
Jaylon Johnson Backs Up David Montgomery’s Comments
Former Bears running back David Montgomery – who signed with the NFC North rival Detroit Lions this offseason – caught some flack over comments he made regarding his time in Chicago, saying all of the losing the team did in his four years sucked the fun out of playing football.
Johnson, who played with Montgomery for three of those seasons confirmed the circumstances at the very least if not the underlying sentiment that players want to be competitive.
“I haven’t had a winning season since I’ve been a Chicago Bear yet,” Johnson said on KJM. “I want to come in and be a dominant guy in the league, I want to dominate on this defense, and I want to come in and change that narrative.
“With winning come’s paychecks. And, I think at the end of the day, I need to focus on winning and that’s what I’m worried about going into Year 4.”
Khalil Herbert kind of agrees with David Montgomery saying "losing sucked the fun" out of playing with the Bears last year. As Herbert put it, "losing sucks." @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/Jr7LDdcN6S
— Matt Zahn (@mattzahnsports) May 31, 2023
The Bears will need more than just Johnson to get out of the shadows of the 3-14 season they had in 2022.
Their aggressive offseason moves should go a long way to helping them achieve that, though.
“We heading in an upward projection, for sure,” said Johnson. “I feel like there’s nothing that I think we don’t have right now…We just got to come in and keep proving ourselves. Coming and keep finding ways to try and win games.”
Johnson noted the Bears’ additions on both lines, at wide receiver with D.J. Moore and rookie Tyler Scott, and even noted the added depth of rookie Tyrique Stevenson.
“We’re building from the ground up,” he said. “We have a good foundation with our offense.”
Justin Fields is ‘Progressing Really Well’
All of the feel-good statements coming out of OTAs about the Bears won’t mean anything if third-year quarterback Justin Fields is unable to take the necessary steps as a passer this season. He has had coaches say good things about him but Johnson spoke to it from a teammate’s perspective.
“I think he’s progressing really well,” Johnson said. “I expect for him to shine.”
It's just 2️⃣ easy pic.twitter.com/HuwnnjO9RS
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 1, 2023
Johnson credited Fields’ intangibles like toughness and leadership and noted that being in Year 2 in the Bears’ offense under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will pay dividends.
“It’s one thing to have a coach come in your rookie year, you have to learn a new system. And for him to be fired and you have to go into a new system. It’s like you never really have a chance to get comfortable.
“I think he’s extremely comfortable now, and extremely confident [and] I think he can be very dangerous. And you’ll see a lot of that dominant quarterback play that you saw at Ohio State.”