On the one hand, yours truly loves a good mystery.
But on the other hand, I’m not quite fond of playing the “is he or isn’t he?” game when it comes to players shopping up at Halas Hall for OTAs. Another round of offseason training activities is upon us. And when it comes to one of its key defenders, Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams was playing coy regarding cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s attendance at today’s OTA practices:
That’s the kind of thing a coach would say when a player isn’t in attendance. But I’ll allow for some gamesmanship before I go hard one way or another.
Johnson was among the few Bears starters who was a no-show during last week’s OTA sessions. And I’ll re-iterate today the sentiment I had last week: It doesn’t bother me too much that Johnson isn’t around for these voluntary practices. Would I prefer that he was with the rest of his teammates at Halas Hall? Absolutely. Would his presence provide a standard to follow as one of the longest-tenured Bears players? Sure, I guess. But is it detrimental to the team that he isn’t around? No. Definitely not.
Remember, Johnson didn’t show up to early OTAs last year. And when he eventually came around, Johnson’s return was met with a stint with the second-team defense. Sure, Johnson climbed his way to the top of the depth chart. But a message was sent by the new regime and accepted by Johnson, who went on to play well in the games he was healthy and available. With that in mind, seeing history repeat itself wouldn’t surprise me.
Even still … I wish Johnson was around. Only part of that desire is rooted in the camaraderie-building aspect that comes with some of these light workouts. Instead, I wish Johnson was at OTAs because it would be nice to hear from Johnson regarding any health updates. Keep in mind that Johnson ended the 2022 season on IR and has yet to play a full schedule of games due to various injuries that have come up over the first three years of his career.
And, of course, there is the matter of Johnson’s future contract. Johnson is entering the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie in 2020. It isn’t hard to make a case for Johnson to get an extension, but it isn’t as cut-and-dry as you’d otherwise like it to be. There is a non-zero chance that there is a connection between Johnson’s absence and the lack of a new deal. That tends to happen this time of year with players looking for new paper. So we’ll keep our eyes open for that to see if anything pops up.