Panthers Former 2nd-Round DB Named Bears’ Top Trade Target

Donte Jackson

Getty CB Donte Jackson of the Carolina Panthers.

Now this would be a curve ball.

The Chicago Bears have multiple needs to address this offseason, with center, wide receiver and pass rusher at the top of the list. But one analyst believes the team should target a veteran cornerback via trade.

Bleacher Report’s Kris Knox named Donte Jackson as a top trade target to watch for the Bears in the coming months.

“Even if Chicago manages to re-sign standout corner Jaylon Johnson, it could use secondary help,” Knox wrote on January 29. “Carolina’s Donte Jackson is entering the final year of his contract, and the Panthers could be interested in recouping some of the draft capital they sent to the Bears to obtain Bryce Young.”

Would the Bears Even Be Interested in Trading for CB Donte Jackson?

The short answer is probably not. Knox’s claim Chicago could use secondary help isn’t entirely accurate. The Bears already has a solid CBs room, led by Jaylon Johnson. The team will either re-sign Johnson to a big contact, or it will place the franchise tag on him.

“We’ll start talks again. I feel really good about that situation,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said about Johnson’s contract situation on January 10, adding: “Jaylon’s not going to go anywhere and we’ll work through it to get something done.”

Aside from Johnson, the Bears have two young corners who showed loads of promise throughout the 2023 season. In his second season, Kyler Gordon became a genuine playmaker in the slot. Per Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks had an 86.3 passer rating against Gordon.

Second-round rookie Tyrique Stevenson also played well, tying for the team lead in interceptions with four. Stevenson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his multi-interception, 4 PBU performance Week 17 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Stevenson became the first Bear to get a DPOW nod since safety Eddie Jackson did it Week 12 of the 2018 season. Behind those three, the Bears also have several promising young CBs who have yet to fully develop, including 2023 fifth-rounder Terell Smith and 2022 UDFA Josh Blackwell.

They could use an upgrade and some depth at the safety position, particularly if they part ways with Eddie Jackson.

Donte Jackson Has Solid Numbers, But Has Been a Starter Over His 6-Year Career

Jackson, 28, has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the Panthers. A second-round pick out of LSU for Carolina (55th overall) in 2018, the veteran corner has played in 80 games in that span, starting 76. He has played 40 snaps at free safety over his career, so it would be possible for Chicago to add him to replace Jackson, although that’s highly unlikely.

The Bears will likely address needs at safety in free agency and via the draft.

In 16 games (16 starts) last season, Jackson had 59 total tackles (5 for loss), a forced fumble and five passes defensed. For the first time in his career in 2023, he finished with zero interceptions. He’s set to make $4.7 million in 2024, with a dead cap hit over $9.7 million.

It’s possible the Bears will add another CB, but Poles isn’t going to waste precious draft capital on a position the team is already strong at.

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