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Jaylon Johnson reveals how he digested the Justin Fields trade

Jaylon Johnson reveals how he digested the Justin Fields trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Trading Justin Fields to the Steelers wasn't an easy pill for anyone to swallow.

Not the fans, not the front office, not the coaches and definitely not the players. Cole Kmet, in speaking on the CHGO podcast, said he canceled his plans to go out on St. Patrick's Day when he learned about the trade.

Jaylon Johnson started the digesting process before the trade even happened.

"I think it's one thing to be surprised that it happened and then to wait for it to happen," Johnson said. "I think it was more so a thing where it was waiting [for it to happen]. I think if you truly believe in a guy the speculation would've been shot down. I think, for me, that's why I started kinda preparing for it. When the speculation and the questions weren't shot down I was kinda like 'Eh, they're probably considering trading him.'

"For me, I was kinda preparing myself for the worst. Alright, let's just already process Justin being traded. And then even just having that last little bit of hope was something that I held onto a little bit. But when you actually see it come across your page on ESPN and the ticker going off it's like 'Damn, my dog really isn't gonna be with us no more.'"

The Bears traded Fields to the Steelers last Saturday in exchange for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick. The pick could turn into a fourth-rounder, should Fields play at minimum 51% of snaps with the Steelers in 2024.

The little return the Bears earned back from the Steelers can't make things easier. Initially, most thought the Bears could yield a second- or third-round pick for Fields. But, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Bears compromised their value to make sure Fields ended up in his preferred destination as quickly as possible.

Still, that doesn't make things any easier for Johnson, who came into the league one year before Fields.

"It's tough because he came in with me when I was young, my second year, and he was a rookie," Johnson said. "So seeing him grow as a person and a player, I think for me it was something that I really enjoyed. Now seeing him go to the Steelers is just another thing I can support and continue to support him from the outside looking in. I wish him nothing but the best until, of course, he plays us."

Multiple reports confirmed shortly after the trade that Fields will back up Russell Wilson, who signed a one-year deal with the Steelers. There won't be a quarterback competition in Pittsburgh. The acquisition of Fields is a long-term play, using him as insurance in the event Wilson doesn't work out for them.

But Johnson, like many of his fans in Chicago, believes Fields could take over in Pittsburgh quickly.

"I think he brings another element that the Steelers haven't had in a long time," Johnson said. "I think that big playmaking ability that he has. I think he can take that and build around that young core. I know they got some really good, young wide receivers, tight ends and some good running backs. I know they can do some explosive things on offense."

It's true. The Steelers have struggled to find their signal caller since Ben Roethlisberger departed the league. They've gone through Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett, and former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Now they're at Wilson and Fields.

For the Bears, they're about to usher in their new, hopeful franchise signal caller in the upcoming draft. In all likelihood, it'll be USC's Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick.

But Johnson isn't all in on the Williams hype yet. He has to prove his worth.

MORE: Jaylon Johnson isn't all in on the Caleb Williams hype just yet

"What you did in college, the Hollywood, it's like nah, you gotta prove yourself," Johnson said. "That stuff like that doesn't matter. You gotta get to know him, too. I think there's a fine line between trying to prove a point to him but you also gotta get to know him. Because at the end of the day, we want him to be the absolute best he can be. That's what we're bringing him in for to win games.

"I think truly just learning who he is as a person and learning him deeper than all the Hollywood stuff you see but actually trying to learn and get to know him and then knowing from there what pushes him. If it is trash talk, if trash talk makes him crumble, then I mean, I feel like we gotta push that button because people in the game, they're gonna push that button. Depending on whatever it is that he needs to be pushed at, that's our job and that's our duty as his teammates to make him better to strengthen his weaknesses."

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