Kyle Fuller - Free agent - My gut tells me that the Chicago Bears will bring Kyle Fuller back somehow. Either with a franchise tag or transition tag, or with a long term contract. I just don’t see Fuller leaving.
And to you fans trying to draw parallels between the Alshon Jeffery situation and this Fuller situation, stop. One has noting to do with the other. Jeffery and the Bears couldn’t reach a long term agreement after the 2015 season, so they franchise tagged him so he could prove just how valuable of a player he was. And he got popped for PED use in 2016. There was reported to be another offer on the table last offseason, but Jeffery didn’t like it. Instead he went to an ascending team, with an ascending quarterback, on another one year prove it deal. It all worked out for Alshon as he got a the contract extension he was looking for and a Super Bowl ring.
Now with that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuller eventually left the Bears because it takes two to make a thing go right. Fuller may simply want a fresh start with a new team.
And to you fans griping that general manager Ryan Pace should have picked up his fifth year option, just stop that one too. No one was in favor of the Bears picking that option up after Fuller missed all of 2016 with a knee thing.
Fuller had a really nice bounce back season in 2017 and he set himself up for an eventual pay day.
Prince Amukamara - Free agent - I was pleasantly surprised at Amukamara’s play last year. The interceptions were nonexistent, but he covered well and was solid in run support. I’d be OK if they brought him back, but I think they could upgrade if they really wanted to.
Marcus Cooper - Signed through 2019 - Cooper played decent early, but something seemed to happen to him after his early celebration fumble gaffe. That was the turning point of his Bears career, and my guess is they release him soon. Pace, as usual, gave himself a relatively easy out of this contract. Cutting Cooper would save five million, and hit them with only a million in dead cap space.
Bryce Callahan - Restricted free agent - I’ve always like Callahan’s game, but he’s never been able to stay healthy. He did play in a career high twelve games in 2017, and he also picked up the first two interceptions of his career. I expect the Bears to offer him a tender and he’ll be back competing to play nickle.
Bryce Callahan's slot coverage statistics in 2017 pic.twitter.com/LT1O0JArhM— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 21, 2018
Cre’Von LeBlanc - Signed through 2018 - I’ve always liked LeBlanc’s play too. He didn’t get on the field much on defense last season, but he’s played outside and nickle, plus he’s a solid special teamer.
Sherrick McManis - Free agent - At some point you have to move on from your special teams only players and find reserves that can play more when called on. I’d like the 5th cornerback roster spot to go to a young player that has the potential to develop, rather than a 30-year old special teamer.
Doran Grant - Signed through 2018 - Originally a fourth round pick of the Steelers in 2015, Grant is now on his fifth team. His only NFL action came with Pittsburgh that season (18 snaps). At 5’10”, he’s a better fit at nickle, but he’ll have to beat out a few players to get a crack at a roster spot.
Jonathon Mincy - Signed through 2018 - Mincy (5’10”) could be a wildcard for the 2018 Bears. He was an undrafted free agent for the Falcons in 2015 after a nice career at Auburn, but he failed to make their roster. He ended up in the CFL, playing for the Montreal Alouettes, where he was named Montreal’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2016, and he was selected for the CFL Eastern Division All-Star team in 2017.
He had eleven teams after him before electing to sign with the Bears.
2018 OUTLOOK - Chicago’s hands are tied until a decision is made on Kyle Fuller. If he returns, the rest of the depth chart will hopefully fall into place. The Bears will still need to grab another free agent to play opposite Fuller, but Fuller is the key in my opinion.
The big trade that just went down yesterday with the Chiefs sending cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams, will possibly mean that Trumaine Johnson makes it to free agency. So in theory, the Bears could sign Johnson and re-sign (or tag) Fuller.
That would be a heck of a 1-2 punch at corner.
New England’s Malcolm Butler would be a nice pick up, as would Jacksonville’s Aaron Colvin, who has played nickle but has the size (6’) to play outside too. They could even bring back Prince, but somehow the Bears will spend on the corner position this offseason,
Even after spending they could also draft at the position too. There was a mock draft a couple weeks ago that had them taking Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is a jack-of-all-trades type of DB. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Iowa’s Joshua Jackson are two other first round talents that could be in the mix.
This may not be as deep a class as last season, but there are still quality corners to be found on day two and three as well.