Why Chicago Bears must get an extension done with Jaylon Johnson 

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears officially are placing the franchise tag on Jaylon Johnson. While that does mean that Johnson will not hit the open market, it does not mean that the two sides are done negotiating a long-term contract. The two sides have until the middle of July to work out an extension before Johnson officially plays on the tag. While Johnson may end up doing that, the Bears would be smart to extend him. 

First, the franchise tag is $19.8M against the salary cap. If the Chicago Bears extend him, they can smooth over the first year or so due to a signing bonus. Then, when the bigger money hits, the salary cap will have risen. 

Beyond that, if the Bears are franchise-tagging him, they have to think he is going to play well. If Johnson plays as well, or even slightly worse than he did this year, the team is going to be in the same spot. They may have to franchise tag him again. The issue with that is the tag will go up 120% next year if they want to tag him again. That would be $23.76M against the cap, and again, the team could smooth that out with a signing bonus. 

Should the Chicago Bears extend Jaylon Johnson after placing the franchise tag on him?

So, if things go right, the Bears will be on the books for two years and $43.56M. Recent cornerbacks who signed big contract extensions are Denzel Ward, Jalen Ramsey, and Jaire Alexander. 

Jaire Alexander makes $21M per year, Denzel Ward makes $20.1M, and Jalen Ramsey makes $20M. If the Bears tag Johnson twice, he is going to make $21.78M per year over those two years. The Bears are already going to set the market with Johnson, assuming he plays well in 2024. 

If the Chicago Bears are afraid he will completely fall off, it makes sense not to extend him. However, putting up $43M over the first two years would almost get the deal done on its own, why not push it over the finish line and give yourself the financial flexibility over the next couple of seasons?

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