Bears Sign CB Jaylon Johnson to 4Y/$76M Contract

The Bears and Jaylon Johnson, their franchise player, finalized a contract that would make Johnson one of the top 10 compensated corners in the NFL. The contract which will average $19 million dollars a season carries a guarantee of $54 million of which $43.8 million is fully guaranteed at signing. Jordan Schultz of Bleacher report had the most details on the contract so far and I thought we could use those numbers to see where the contract ranks.

The annual value of the contract will make Johnson the 7th highest paid corner in the NFL, behind Jaire Alexander, Denzel Ward, Jalen Ramsey, Marlon Humphrey, Marshon Lattimore, and Trevon Diggs. He will earn $28 million in the first year of the contract which is 8th in the NFL behind those same names as well as Tre’Davious White. He will earn $60 million in the first three years of the contract per Adam Schefter and that number is tied for 5th in the league and the most for any cornerback not on a five year contract. In my opinion that is probably the number that drove the deal home as it gets Johnson to the coveted $20M/year number on the three year metric.

The guarantees on the contract are strong especially given the length of the contract. The $54 million ranks 6th in the NFL and 5th if valued on a per year basis. As a percentage of the contract value it ranks 1st. My guess would be that this does not fully vest to a full guarantee until 2026, but that is just a guess.

The full guarantee is 3rd in the NFL putting Johnson just ahead of Ramsey. Considering the length of the contract it is a massive number. The full guarantee works out to $10.95 million per season. The next closest player (White) is at $9.2 million. This represents 57% of the contract’s total value which is huge. My feeling is that they were willing to trade max value for more guarantees to get the contract done.

Now one can argue if using guarantees per year does or does not matter. For this particular position I would lean more towards “does not matter” only because the cornerbacks often fade quicker than other positions and in many cases the 5th year is meaningless for the team and player. However there are always exceptions and getting a four year contract as a player is certainly preferable to a five year one especially when the team is willing to do guarantees that mimic those of the longer term contract.

The one thing about this contract that will be criticized is that this did not jump in value even though he was a franchise player. Usually the annual value for a franchise player is at least one million per year higher than the tag value and in most cases it is a few million higher rather than falling as it did here. There have been a few exceptions- Jason Pierre-Paul and Jarvis Landry are the two most recent- and usually indicates a player who isn’t a traditional franchise tag candidate. I do think Johnson, who was nearly traded last year, fits that bill and in this case the tag was only used because Johnson and the Bears were close to a deal but it just needed to get over the finish line.