With the NFL trade deadline looming in just over two weeks, reports and rumors are starting to swirl about the Bears. The first big one came earlier this week when Courtney Cronin reported that the Bears were gauging their interest around the league in two key defensive players: Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson.
Just because a team is measuring interest doesn’t mean a deal is imminent. It’s possible the team could just do their due diligence if they take a dive before the trade deadline. If the team moves either player, it would send a big shockwave through the Bears’ locker room, but Darnell Mooney said players can’t worry about trade reports or rumors.
“Rumors always happen,” Mooney said. “But that’s the league. Things happen. You’re not really safe until the first week of November.
The Bears dealt with some franchise-altering trades last offseason, including the deal that sent Roquan Smith to the Ravens. The team also had to say goodbye to Robert Quinn, who was admired as a veteran captain. The two moves happened within a week of each other last year, and brought about a notable change in the locker room.
“It was definitely a stab in the heart,” Mooney said. “Like, we lost a brother, but at the end of the day you still have to move on and go out there and play on Sunday.”
If the Bears sell out again this year and trade Johnson or Jackson, it will hurt just as much.
“Jaylon is one of the best corner kicks in the league,” Mooney said. “You’re trading that away, it’s crazy. Then you’d have BoJack [Jackson]I mean, he was dealing with some injuries, but BoJack is still BoJack. It’s still really good and you can see it’s missing when it’s not there. “It will be another stab in the heart.”
Mooney is no stranger to trading rumors himself. He remembers hearing his name pop up in potential trades when the Bears entered the season with DJ Moore and Chase Claypool, and it looked like Mooney could be in line to take third in the wide receiver pecking order. He said that all he can do is prepare for this step if an agreement is reached, and try to balance the mentality of staying or leaving.
“It’s definitely up and down,” Mooney said.
Johnson is one of the league’s top cover stars and is playing in the final year of his contract. It’s been made clear that the Bears want to see an uptick in takeaway production before signing him to a new deal. So far, Johnson has forced one fumble through two games. The Bears drafted two cornerbacks this year, Tyreek Stevenson and Terrell Smith, and each of their starters has played well this season, so the Bears could see them as potential replacements if they choose not to re-sign Johnson.
Jackson has been one of the Bears’ most active players since the team drafted him in 2017. He had a few off seasons after earning Pro Bowl nods in 2018 and 2019, and All-Pro honors in 2018, but Jackson was in the midst of a renaissance season Last year, before he suffered a season-ending injury to Lisfranc in Week 12. Jackson appeared to be fully healthy and ready to go at the start of the current season, but an injury to the same foot was affected by Lisfranc’s injury last year. The injury kept him out of the last three matches. Jackson has 14 career interceptions with 10 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Furthermore, Jackson scored six defensive goals during his tenure with the Bears.
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