The Steelers made a ‘strong push’ to acquire Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson before Tuesday’s trade deadline, according to NFL insider Jordan Schultz. The Bears held firm despite Johnson being on an expiring contract, believing they could work out their differences and keep him there long-term.
Johnson reportedly will play out the rest of the season like a professional and has no intent of negotiating with the Bears on a long-term contract. The Bears traded for edge rusher Montez Sweat to try and help their defense, and Johnson will get to play behind him.
The fourth-year-pro drew a strong market, with the Steelers among four teams that reportedly showed a persistent interest in Johnson. The San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles were also in on the conversations surrounding the 24-year-old.
Johnson was the No. 50 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the fourth-year pro is having a career season. Pro Football Focus graded him as the best cornerback in the NFL through the first seven weeks of the season. He has two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, four passes defended and 18 tackles on the season.
With Jaylon Johnson set to hit the open market in the offseason, this might not be over. The Steelers could be interested in bringing in the Bears cornerback in a splash move in free agency. But for now, the team will proceed with Joey Porter Jr. and Patrick Peterson as the starters. Cornerback Levi Wallace will likely play as the team’s sub-package cornerback, but Chandon Sullivan is chipping in as a slot cornerback, too.
Pittsburgh was in the market for a cornerback but could not find the value they wanted in a move. So, it now seems like they will instead go forward with what they have while potentially keeping an eye on the offseason to reconfigure the secondary.