Johnson was hoping for an extension from the Bears, but will test the free agent waters in March. He’s hoping to both play for the team he wants and the get the money he seeks, as a huge pay raise is coming.
“Heart’s definitely in Chicago, mind’s definitely on the money,” Johnson said at the Pro Bowl this weekend, via NFL.com. “So, I mean, we’ll figure out if we can make them both come together and get something done. I’m looking forward to see what’s to come.”
Johnson certainly deserves a raise based on a strong 2023 season, which he had a career-high four interceptions in earning Second Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Opposing quarterbacks targeting Johnson completed 46.3% of the passes and had just one passing touchdown targeting him as the primary defender. Johnson allowed just a 28.5 passer rating in coverage.
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Naturally, Johnson will be one of the top cornerbacks available in free agency. The Bears have $46.88 million in available salary cap space this offseason (per Over The Cap), so there’s some room to get a deal done.
The four interceptions and a forced fumble in 14 games certainly helps Johnson’s case for more money, especially since he’s 24 years old and his best football is well ahead of him.
“Probably the only thing I have [against me] was not getting turnovers,” Johnson said. “But now, this year I started getting some turnovers, creating. I feel like I’ve always been an exceptional cover guy, so just being able to impact the game and make plays in the air is something I wanted to do, and I went out and did that. And now everybody knows I can take the ball away. So, I feel like there’s really not a box I can’t check.”