It's happening just like it always does. Just hours before the clock sets on the 2023 NFL trade deadline, teams are rushing to make calls. The rumors have been swirling for the entire month of October, and it's looking like the Pittsburgh Steelers may be active at the deadline once again this year.
Late last night, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that Bears star cornerback, Jaylon Johnson had requested a trade from Chicago. This comes in the aftermath of failing to come close to a contract extension with his current team.
The report doesn't end here. Fowler also reported that the Steelers are one of the three teams currently in talks with Chicago about acquiring Johnson's services at the trade deadline. The two others reportedly in trade talks with the Bears are the 49ers and Eagles.
Pittsburgh already has a history of trading with the Bears. Just last year at the deadline, the Steelers shipped Chase Claypool to Chicago for a second-round draft choice (which was ultimately used to select Joey Porter Jr.).
The Steelers clearly got the better end of this deal, but this might not prevent the Bears from trading with Pittsburgh if the price is right. In recent weeks, we have speculated that Johnson is a player that Omar Khan could target at the NFL trade deadline. This team is desperate for a competent cornerback outside of Porter, and Johnson fits the bill.
Entering Week 9 of the 2023 season, Johnson is the 3rd-ranked cornerback in the league, via Pro Football Focus, with an overall grade of 84.4. He's doing this despite a lack of talent in his supporting cast around him.
Should Steelers pull the trigger on Jaylon Johnson trade?
Johnson has always been a quality starter, but he's having a breakout year in 2023. However, this means that he will also be due a rich new contract. This will have to come upon negotiations with his new team, as the former second-round pick is set to be an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason.
The Steelers are already spending a lot on the defensive side of the ball with big money going out to T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alex Highsmith, and Cameron Heyward. Can they really afford another big contract on defense? Not only that, but this would be the double-gut punch. Pittsburgh would have to give up draft capital and turn around and pay him a huge contract.
There's no question that the Steelers could use help in the secondary, and Jaylon Johnson would be a massive improvement over Patrick Peterson or Levi Wallace on the outside. Still, the asking price might be too high for a team that has so many problems on the offensive side of the ball and doesn't look like a true competitor at this point in time.