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Bears roster breakdown, 90-in-90: Johnthan Banks

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The next part of this Bears roster series has us taking a look at cornerback Johnthan Banks.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Johnthan Banks
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Cornerback Johnthan Banks is one of the more interesting players on the Bears roster. The fifth-year pro was originally a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013.

Banks came on strong in his first 2 seasons, starting 30 of 31 games while racking up 7 interceptions and 16 passes broken up. Prior to his third season, Mike Smith took the reins of Tampa’s defense and Banks was no longer viewed as the productive player he was under Lovie Smith and Greg Schiano.

During the 2016 season, the Buccaneers traded Banks to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick. In Detroit he was to team up with his old college teammate Daruis Slay. This experiment was short-lived however, when the Lions released him on December 3, 2016.

The Bears acted swiftly in signing Banks, on December 5, 2016, for the season’s home-stretch. Banks started the final two games of the 2016 season where he barely scratched the stat sheet.

What makes Banks so interesting though is the fact that he was highly successful in college and the first two seasons of his NFL career. Banks has great length for the position and seems like exactly the type of reclamation project that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell love to work with.

Banks should provide the Bears with solid depth at the cornerback position and has plenty of upside to push for a starting role with the team long-term. If he can regain some of the magic from the beginning of his career, this could end up being the kind of under-the-radar, high-upside and shrewd signings that Ryan Pace likes to make.


Age: 27-years-old

Experience: 5th-year pro

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 185 pounds

Contract and salary cap:

According to Spotrac, Banks’ deal with the Bears is for one year and worth $885,00, with $80,000 in guaranteed money. His base salary in 2017 is $775,000.

Reason for improvement in 2017

If Banks can show the same knack for making plays on the ball in training camp that he did early in his career, he should have an opportunity to compete for a starting spot. I was a big fan of Banks coming out of Mississippi State and I believe that he has all the tools that Fangio and Donatell look for in their cornerbacks.

Reason for regression in 2017

Given the past few seasons, it is possible that Banks’ confidence is shot. He was sent packing by two separate teams last year and that is not particularly good for the psyche. If this is the case, he is going to continue to perform poorly and will get jumped on the roster by younger players like Kyle Fuller, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan.

Final roster odds

I feel really good about Banks’ chances to make the roster. His size and past production make him a tantalizing player for a defensive backfield that could be short on play-makers. I see Banks coming on strong in training camp and earning the 6th cornerback spot on the roster to go along with Amukamara, Cooper, Fuller, LeBlanc and Callahan. He has some special teams experience and I think that his ability to play on defense is what gives him the edge at final cuts. Putting the odds on this at 75 percent.

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