Could Jaylon Johnson’s situation lead to a trade? Will Justin Fields be the franchise’s first 4,000-yard passer? – Denver Post

The Chicago Bears are in the middle of their first week of organized team activities, but not everyone is in Halas Hall for the voluntary sessions. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s absence on Tuesday raised some eyebrows, and Brad Biggs’ Bears Weekly Mail begins with a question about the situation.

Are we heading for another Roquan (Smith) type situation with Jaylon Johnson? I feel like Ryan Poles would rather move on from a player who rustles contract feathers than reward them. I can consider using it as a business opportunity for a mid-season need. — @obsidianarcade

I think you’re probably overreacting to the news that second-year Johnson hasn’t reported for the voluntary portion of the offseason schedule. Would the Bears prefer Johnson to be there? Of course. Will missing OTAs – and bear in mind that Johnson could show up any day – affect his 2023 season? Probably not. Some players choose when they want to show up, and that’s their right. It is especially their right if they do not have a training bonus linked to their presence during the off-season program.

Smith was there for the offseason program a year ago, and I don’t think that’s an apples-to-apples comparison. He was going to command a contract at or near the top of the pay scale for off-ball linebackers, and I don’t think Johnson will be in that category for cornerbacks. Johnson might like to be in that wealthy neighborhood, but I’d be surprised if the Bears valued him at that level. Johnson turned 24 last month and has been pretty much the team’s best cornerback since joining. The Bears added draft competition with Tyrique Stevenson in the second round and Terell Smith in the fifth to go along with Kyler Gordon, a second-round pick a year ago. Good teams always have a stable of quality cornerbacks.

Johnson’s absence may be related to his desire for a contract extension, but he also skipped voluntary games a year ago when he was not eligible for a payday. The Bears would surely want some level of discount if they extend Johnson a year to continue his contract, and Johnson would want the market value that free agents command. We’ll have to see where that goes, but judging by the Poles’ off-the-cuff comments about Johnson over the draft weekend, I think he’d like to keep the player he inherited.

“Jaylon, hopefully he’s a guy we can keep here for a while too,” Poles said after day two of the draft. “So I’m excited about this group, inside and out, and their depth as well.”

With the additions on offense and expectations of a vastly improved passing offense, will this be the season the Bears finally get a 4,000 yard passer? Is Justin Fields the man to accomplish this feat? — Dennis S., Campaign

You talk about one of the statistical anomalies that comes with the Bears franchise and the invention of the forward pass. The Bears are the only NFL team to not have a quarterback pass for 4,000 yards in a season. They are also the only team without a quarterback with 30 touchdown passes in a season. Fields averaged 149.5 passing yards per game last year and would need to average more than 235 in 17 full games to hit that plateau this season.

It certainly seems doable – and the addition of wide receiver DJ Moore stood out during Tuesday’s OTA which was open to media – but Fields should remain healthy and be much more productive. The Bears have had just 11 passers for 3,000 yards in their history, the last Mitch Trubisky in 2019 and the first Bill Wade in 1962. Erik Kramer came closest to 4,000 yards in 1995, when he finished with 3,838.

The Bears had company with the Philadelphia Eagles until Carson Wentz became their first 4,000-yard passer in 2019. A total of 217 quarterbacks reached 4,000 yards in a season, the first being Joe Namath with the Bears. New York Jets in 1967.

Adding a 17th regular season game should make it easier to achieve, but the small sample size doesn’t show a bump yet. Here are the 4,000-yard seasons since 2016:

  • 2022: 9 (17 game season)
  • 2021: 10 (17 game season)
  • 2020: 12
  • 2019: 9
  • 2018: 12
  • 2017: 8
  • 2016: 12

And here’s a list of each franchise’s first 4,000-yard passers by decade:

1960s: 1

1970s: 1

  • Chargers: Dan Fouts, 1979

1980s: 8

  • Browns: Brian Sipe, 1980
  • Packers: Lynn Dickey, 1983
  • Leaders: Bill Kenney, 1983
  • Cardinals: Neil Lomax, 1984
  • Dolphins: Dan Marino, 1984
  • Giants: Phil Simms, 1984
  • Commanders: Jay Schroeder, 1986
  • Rams: Jim Everett, 1989

1990s: 11

  • Titans: Warren Moon, 1990
  • Broncos: John Elway, 1993
  • 49ers: Steve Young, 1993
  • Vikings: Warren Moon, 1994
  • Patriots: Drew Bledsoe, 1994
  • Falcons: Jeff George, 1995
  • Lions: Scott Mitchell, 1995
  • Ravens: Vinny Testaverde, 1996
  • Jaguars: Mark Brunell, 1996
  • Panthers: Steve Beuerlein, 1999
  • Foals: Peyton Manning, 1999

2000s: 7

  • Bills: Drew Bledsoe, 2002
  • Raiders: Rich Gannon, 2002
  • Bengals: Carson Palmer, 2006
  • Saints: Drew Brees, 2006
  • Cowboys: Tony Romo, 2007
  • Texans: Matt Schaub, 2009
  • Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, 2009

2010s: 3

  • Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, 2012
  • Seahawks: Russell Wilson, 2015
  • Eagles: Carson Wentz, 2019

It should be noted that Hall of Famer Moon (Titans and Vikings) and Bledsoe (Patriots and Bills) were the first passers for 4,000 yards for two franchises.

Do you think the new third quarterback rule affects who the Bears keep as QB3? — @gucasliogito

It will be really interesting to see how teams approach roster management. The new league-approved rule, proposed by the Detroit Lions, will allow teams to dress a third quarterback who will not count in the game-day roster. However, it’s important to note that this QB cannot be from the practice squad, so teams will need to carry three QBs on their 53-man roster to designate the emergency guy. Many organizations opted for just two QBs on the 53-man roster to maximize flexibility in other positions, so this will be interesting to watch.

The rule was proposed after San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson were eliminated from the NFC Championship Game, forcing the team to use running back Christian McCaffrey as a wildcat quarterback.

The emergency third quarterback can only be used if the first two quarterbacks are ruled out by injuries. It will be interesting to see how many teams return to what was usual – three QBs on the 53-man roster – to use this rule. As for the Bears, rookie Tyson Bagent is a far cry from the Division III Shepherd team. But you never know.

How do you see the starting defensive line for Week 1? Left to right, DeMarcus Walker, Andrew Billings, Justin Jones and Trevis Gipson? Do you think second-team players like Rasheem Green or the two rookie defensive tackles can earn a job at camp? — @themaxconnor1

Seems fair to me, but there’s so much work to do on the field – with full pads – in training camp that a lot can change. If I had to bet, I’d bet that Ryan Poles adds a defensive end at some point. Does that mean the newcomer would start in base defence? Maybe. It’s also possible for a newcomer to be a designated passing thrower, essentially a starter in the nickel package.

Rookies Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens will have a chance to push for a starting job, but that might not happen immediately. The key for them is playing time. As long as they’re on the regular rotation, their snap count will be performance-based. The better they play, the more action they’ll get.

I looked at all the Tribune articles about the Bears stadium move and never found an answer to this question: if they get the site and the financing and the construction agreement, what is the capacity in planned seats? When the city proposed to build the indoor stadium away from the lake, the advertised capacity was around 83,000. —Kevin, Chicago

If the Bears shared a ballpark figure for seating capacity in their planned domed stadium in Arlington Heights, I haven’t seen it. I’ve written about this a few times after speaking with Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports consulting firm Sportscorp, who is an expert on these issues. Its projection is significantly larger than Soldier Field, which has the NFL’s smallest capacity at 61,500. But it’s not looking at anything as big as some have hoped.

“I doubt they’ll go that far,” Ganis said of the 81,441 capacity at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the league’s second-largest. “High 60s would be the right number. There’s a weird cost factor associated with the geometry of the stadium. The most expensive seats to build are the seats furthest from the field when you expand the building. As you increase the capacity, you have to increase the size of the whole building. So you add five rows to the top of the stadium to add a few thousand extra seats. These are the most expensive seats to build while also being the seats that generate the lowest revenue.

“Is it 66,000? 69,000? Do they have the ability to have standing room to reach 72,000 people? This is the general range.

Here is the seating capacity of NFL stadiums built since the Cardinals moved into State Farm Stadium in 2006:

  • Rams and Chargers, SoFi Stadium (2020): 70,000
  • Raiders, Allegiant Stadium (2020): 65,000-*
  • Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (2017): 71,000-*
  • Vikings, US Bank Stadium (2016): 66,655-*
  • 49ers, Levi’s Stadium (2014): 68,500
  • Giants and Jets, MetLife Stadium (2010): 82,500
  • Cowboys, AT&T Stadium (2009): 80,000-**
  • Foals, Lucas Oil Stadium (2008): 67,000
  • Cardinals, State Farm Stadium (2006): 63,400-*

* dome, ** retractable roof

Currently, 16 stadiums – including Soldier Field – have a listed capacity of less than 70,000. Fourteen are between 65,000 and 69,596. It should be noted that the Buffalo Bills, which are building a new site to replace Highmark Stadium, will have a smaller building. The capacity of Highmark Stadium is 71,608. The new open-air stadium would have a capacity of around 62,000.


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