LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Cornerback Jaylon Johnson insisted he is not worried about his future with the Chicago Bears and hopes to remain with the team beyond next season.
Johnson said Wednesday he would like a contract extension as he enters the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.
“One hundred percent,” he said. "I look forward to staying and extending with the Bears.”
A second-round draft pick out of Utah in 2020, Johnson has established himself as one of Chicago's best players. His absence from voluntary offseason activities until this week stirred speculation that he was upset and holding out for a new deal. But he insisted that wasn't the case.
“Anybody who knows me, that’s not my character," Johnson said. "I think at the end of the day, for me, I wouldn’t even say holding out, just having prior priorities.”
Johnson said his main reason for remaining home in Fresno, California, was simply to spend time with his 3-year-old daughter. He also had charitable commitments, including a golf tournament this past weekend as well as a nonprofit football camp.
His schedule is a little lighter now that those events have passed, and his daughter's mother graduated from college, giving her more free time. That in turn helped allow Johnson to join the team.
Johnson said he remained in contact with the Bears while he was away. He participated in meetings via Zoom, and checked in with coaches and teammates on a regular basis.
“The communication never stopped,” he said. “I know at the end of the day, I’m a pro. I’ve been in this long enough. I know how to go about it. I know how to work out, stay in shape, continue to do what I need to do along with handling my business at home.”
Johnson said he is “transitioning” to a new agent. He said he has no real opinion on how negotiations have gone so far and hasn't thought about whether he wants a deal done by training camp.
“I think the Bears know the timing of when we really want to get into the nitty gritty of the contract talks and things like that,” he said. "Just being patient and continue to do what I can to get better, and when that time comes, it comes.”
Johnson also said his situation is different from the Bears' standoff with star linebacker Roquan Smith last year.
It escalated when Smith — who did not have an agent — staged a “hold in” at the start of training camp, allowing him attend meetings and practices without participating in drills. He went public with a trade request and accused general manager Ryan Poles of negotiating in bad faith. Ultimately, he got dealt to Baltimore in October.
"His situation is different than my situation," Johnson said. "It’s Roquan Smith at the end of the day. But I’m not him, he’s not me. My timing is different than his timing. I’m not too caught up in that.”
NOTES: Along with Johnson, the Bears had safety Eddie Jackson back practicing with the team on Wednesday, an encouraging step for a player returning from a season-ending foot injury. Guard Nate Davis — not seen during practices that were open to reporters the past few weeks — was participating. Coach Matt Eberflus said receiver Darnell Mooney, who missed the final five games because of an ankle injury, is “right on track” to be ready for training camp. ... Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson and Bears president Kevin Warren released a joint statement saying they met Tuesday and discussed “the importance of deep roots and the need for equitable community investment throughout the city.” They said they are "committed to the idea that the city and its major civic institutions must grow and evolve together to meet the needs of the future. We look forward to continuing the dialogue around these shared values.”