BEST TRADE: Bears $76 Million Star Claims Justin Fields’Jersey Number…

Bears $76 Million Star Claims Justin Fields’ Former Jersey Number.

The Chicago Bears are already giving out quarterback Justin Fields’ old jersey number to another one of their stars for the 2024 season.

According to the NFL Jersey Numbers account on X (which tracks number changes in the league), Bears All-Pro cornerback Jaylon Johnson has switched his jersey number from No. 33 to No. 1 for the upcoming season. Fields had worn the number for the past three seasons, but it became available again when the team traded him to Pittsburgh.

Johnson is no stranger to the No. 1 jersey. He wore the number in college during his three seasons at Utah, where he shined and eventually became a 2020 second-round pick for the Bears. He had worn the No. 33 for the first four seasons of his NFL career.

Johnson, 24, secured his long-term place with the Bears during the 2024 offseason, signing a four-year, $76 million extension that ties him to the team through 2027. His significant pay bump comes on the heels of his career season in 2023, during which he picked off a career-high four passes and allowed just 25 receptions on 50 targets — earning him Pro Football Focus’ best coverage grade (91.0) of the season.

As for Fields, the 2021 first-round pick will no longer wear the No. 1 jersey as he did with the Bears or at Ohio State in college. He will wear No. 2 instead with the Steelers.

Tyler Scott’s Number Change Raises Questions for No. 13

Johnson is not the only member of the Bears changing his number for the 2024 season. Tyler Scott, a 2023 fourth-round pick and wide receiver, also swapped numbers from the No. 10 he wore as a rookie to No. 10, which Chase Claypool last wore for the Bears. There is some significance to the now-available No. 13, though, that is worth unpacking.

The Bears could potentially have two important players interested in donning the No. 13 for the upcoming season: veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams, whom Chicago is widely expected to take in the NFL draft. Allen wore the No. 13 in his 11 previous seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers and may be interested in wearing it again for the Bears in 2024, but Williams — should he want it — might get priority over the jersey number as their new projected franchise starter.

Perhaps Allen will take the same route as Johnson and return to his college number of No. 21. The most recent NFL rule changes regarding numbers allow wide receivers to wear anything between No. 0 and No. 49 (as well as between Nos. 80 and 89) in 2023 and beyond. The Bears do not currently have the No. 21 assigned to anyone, so the option is open for Allen, who also wore the number as a high school football player.

Either Allen or Williams could also consider taking No. 0 as their jersey number now that the NFL allows players to wear zero. Marcus Mariota became the first quarterback to claim the No. 0 when he signed with the Washington Commanders this offseason, but Williams could follow suit if he wants a number no other player has made iconic.

Breaking Down Bears’ Other New Jersey Assignments

So far, Johnson and Scott are the only Bears to lock in a number change for 2024, but Chicago has also handed out numbers to several of their free agents additions as well.

New star running back D’Andre Swift will wear the No. 4 jersey for the Bears after previously wearing No. 32 for the Detroit Lions and No. 0 for the Philadelphia Eagles. The last Bear to wear the No. 4 was former starting free safety Eddie Jackson, whom the team released on February 15 to create roughly $12.56 million in salary-cap relief.

The Bears have also re-assigned Darnell Mooney’s No. 11  jersey to veteran quarterback Brett Rypien, who signed a one-year deal with the team to compete for the backup job. Mooney signed a new three-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2024 free agency, leaving behind the Bears after spending his first four seasons in Chicago. Mooney will wear No. 1 with the Falcons for the 2024 season.

Other notable jersey assignments include safety Jonathan Owens (No. 36), defensive end Jake Martin (No. 55), offensive lineman Jake Curhan (No. 73), Byron Cowart (No. 93) and linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (No. 45).

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