If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to make a trade deadline splash and upgrade at cornerback, there’s at least one name who is clearly on the market. In an early Tuesday morning tweet hours away of today’s 4 PM/EST deadline, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports Chicago Bears CB Jaylon Johnson has asked for and granted permission to seek a trade.
At just 24 years old, Johnson has been a rising name and popular suggestion in trade scenarios. He’s stared in 45 games with 143 career tackles, recording 35 breakups and three interceptions. This year, he’s picked off a pair of passes for the Bears, returning one for a touchdown.
A free agent after this season, Johnson is also searching for a long-term deal. It’s not known what value he’s looking for but won’t come cheap as an emerging cornerback in the league. As Fowler’s tweet notes, his negotiation with the Bears fell through last week, leading to his trade request.
Part of the 2020 class disrupted by the pandemic, it’s hard to tell what level of pre-draft interest there was in him coming out of Utah. We know the Steelers met with Johnson at the NFL Combine but his Pro Day and all pre-draft visits that year were cancelled.
If Pittsburgh were to upgrade at one area, corner is the most logical place to do it. They’ve gotten underwhelming production from Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson this year, the latter who is better equipped to play in the slot than see so much time as an outside corner. Omar Khan has shown to be aggressive in his roster retooling and made moves ahead of last year’s deadline, sending WR Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears in what turned out to be a steal of a deal. Maybe Khan calls up Bears GM Ryan Poles again.
Acquiring someone like Johnson will come with a high cost, almost certainly a Day Two pick and probably something else, but his name is out there. If the Steelers are interested, they won’t be the only one.