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Steelers Analysis

Bears Cornerback Makes Plenty of Sense as Steelers Trade Target



Steelers CB Jaylon Johnson Trade Deadline
Chicago Bears' Jaylon Johnson warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Steelers should not be too active at the trade deadline. After all, the team is young and remains limbo while it waits for verdicts on many young, developing players. But one position that sticks out like a sore thumb is the cornerback position. If the right deal comes along, Pittsburgh could make that move. Pro Football Focus believes Pittsburgh should hunt for help in the secondary.

It makes sense when you consider it. But one name sticks out above the rest as a real splash if the Steelers wanted to make some waves. That player would be Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who is in the final year of his deal. He expressed earlier this week that with trade rumors swirling around, he is prepared for anything, and that door is open.

“I’m not oblivious, I’m not blind, and I’m not exempt at the end of the day,” Johnson said Monday on 670 The Score. “When you trade Roquan away, when you trade Robert Quinn away, man, you can trade anybody away. So, I mean, I’m definitely not exempt. I know what’s going on. I know what is to be figured out and different things like that. At the end of the day, the Bears got to do what’s best for them, and I got to do what’s best for me. Whatever happens with that happens. I’m not forcing anything. Like I’ve been saying from day one, I want to stay here. This is my first team, my home, I bought a house here, everything. All my plans were to stay in Chicago.”

ohnson makes plenty of sense for Pittsburgh. He has enough length to walk up the line and plays his game with an edge. If the Bears sputter and look to move guys at the deadline, Johnson could be someone the Steelers look to target with the cornerback room still up in the air. Joey Porter Jr. is set to get more reps coming out of the bye week, but the team needs to see guys like Patrick Peterson and Levi Wallace take a step forward.

Coming out of Utah, Johnson was a hyped-up prospect for his versatility, as he could work out of multiple coverage schemes well. He has done that at the NFL level so far. He may not be an elite cornerback, but Johnson has cemented himself as a solid starting cornerback in his years in the NFL. If a trade happened, the Steelers would have to give up some significant compensation despite Johnson’s expiring contract.

Regardless, given the Steelers’ scheme and what they want out of their cornerbacks, he is a viable offseason target. Johnson could be a guy who helps bring the secondary back into lockstep with the rest of the defense. The bigger question is if Chicago wants to move Johnson. We are talking about a very talented young cornerback.

Pittsburgh would have to pay up in trade compensation and for an extension. But that could solidify at least one cornerback spot for the future. If the Bears are even contemplating the move, Pittsburgh should be fully in on those sweepstakes.