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Jaylon Johnson, Bears agree to new four-year, $76 million contract

Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson's franchise tag was merely a formality preceding a long-term deal.

The Bears agreed to a four-year, $76 million deal with the rising star defender, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday. The team has since announced the contract.

"We're extremely excited to be able to keep Jaylon here for the next four years," Bears general manager Ryan Poles said in a statement. "He's an integral part of our defense and his leadership will help our team continue to ascend."

Johnson will make an average of $19 million per year on the new deal, which will land him just behind Cowboys star Trevon Diggs in average annual salary rankings among cornerbacks. The deal itself is worth roughly $800,000 less than the tag in 2024, but provides Johnson with long-term security not afforded by the tag.

Johnson's deal isn't a surprise. Poles sounded rather optimistic last week during the NFL Scouting Combine regarding the chances he'd strike a deal with Johnson, and only ended up using the tag just to protect the Bears from potentially losing Johnson to free agency, which begins Monday when the negotiating window opens.

Instead of playing on a one-year deal, Johnson is cashing in, capitalizing on his greatest earning power of his career thus far following his first Pro Bowl trip and first appearance on an All-Pro list (second team).

Of the Bears who headed to 2024 with uncertain futures, Johnson felt like the most likely to be retained. He turns 25 in April and is only just entering his prime. At $19 million per year, he's also a minor bargain, considering the direction of the market in recent years.

With Johnson now checked off the list, Poles can turn his attention toward determining quarterback Justin Fields' future. Unlike Johnson's new contract, that resolution might not come for a while.

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