Bears NFL news roundup: Cole Kmet proving his worth, Jaylon Johnson talks free agency; more Caleb Williams buzz

The buzz surround the Chicago Bears this week features a tight end on the rise, a top corner entering free agency and more Caleb Williams draft rumblings.

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Whether the Chicago Bears keep Justin Fields or use the No. 1 overall pick on Caleb Williams, either quarterback will have a pretty good tight end to throw to.  Coming off solid season, Notre Dame product Cole Kmet is proving he’s worth the multi-year extension he received back in July.

Worth the investment, Bears general manager Ryan Poles told ChicagoBears.com that that he was a big fan of Kmet long before he was an front office executive for the Bears and wanted to send a message to the rest of the team that hard work pays off in the NFL.

"I wanted that also to be a really good lesson for the rest of the team," Poles said of Kmet’s extension. "Because I believe when you pay a player and do an extension, you are showing the rest of the team the blueprint to get a second contract or a third contract. I know for a fact that our entire roster can look at Cole and be like, 'okay, if I do what Cole does, then everything will take care of itself.' And that's what I wanted. And that's why we started with him."

Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet with still more to prove in the NFL

Kmet made the money worth it in 2023 with 73 receptions for 719 yards and morphed into one of the top tight ends in the NFL.  Above that, he is the ultimate professional and a great player to build around.  In showing improvement in each of his first four seasons in the NFL, Kmet took the extension as a challenge to continue to improve and also prove to his team and Poles that he was worth the investment.

“I think in a sense I did [prove them right],” Kmet said.  “I think I took another step forward this year.  I think that’s all you can do as a player every year is just keep taking steps forward.  And I felt like I built upon what I did the year prior and was able to take another step in my game, and I think that was able to show on the field.  So I was definitely proud of what I was able to do.”

The good thing about Kmet is he knows there is still more growth on his horizon.

Bears free agency notes, tidbits, buzz: Jaylon Johnson says his heart is ‘definitely in Chicago

With NFL free agency around the corner, most pending free agents around the league will start thinking with their head and less with their heart when it comes to their next contract.  Speaking to NFL.com over the weekend, Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said just that as he prepares for a big decision this offseason.

Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson preparing to enter NFL Free Agency
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

“Heart’s definitely in Chicago, mind’s definitely on the money,” Johnson told NFL.Com during Pro Bowl practice on Saturday.  “So, I mean, we’ll figure out if we can make them both come together and get something done.  I’m looking forward to see what’s to come.”

A second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Johnson is coming off his best season in the NFL, which has earned him a Pro Bowl nod.  His coverage skills over this past season have made him one of the elite corners in the league, so there will be other NFL teams out there looking to show him the money.  Will the Bears be one of those teams?

On a defense filled with talent, it would be in the Bears best interest to keep Johnson, who has morphed into a complete package as a cornerback in the NFL.  With two top 10 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bears do have options if Johnson does walk in free agency.  Therefore, if he’s out of their pay range, they could let him walk.

NFL Draft buzz: Caleb Williams still the consensus No. 1 pick for the Bears

Speaking of the 2024 NFL Draft, most mock drafts have the Bears selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft

In the CBS.com latest mock, the Bears selection of Williams would set the stage for a trade package for Justin Fields.

CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards writes:

“Chicago will either get a massive return for the No. 1 overall selection or start anew with rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. The exciting aspect for Bears fans is that the compromise is selecting Williams and trading Justin Fields for at least a Day 2 pick and potentially more.”

There is a chance the Bears stick with Fields and use the draft to build around him.  With the No. 1 overall pick, they could go with Marvin Harrison Jr. or trade back a couple of spots in the draft if they believe he’s their man.  That would also earn them more draft capitol or even a proven NFL player.  So much the Bears could do which sets up for an exciting offseason in Chicago.