Last year was a strange one for Chicago Bears’ cornerback Kyle Fuller.
General manager Ryan Pace went out and added two new starting corners last off season after Fuller missed all of 2016 with an injury. You couldn’t really fault Pace for being proactive in adding Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, because the Bears needed to make sure that position was manned accordingly. Fuller’s knee ailment drug on for all of ‘16, leaving the status of the former first round pick up in the air.
However, a couple injuries to Amukamara and Cooper opened the door for Fuller to get some playing time with the ones during camp and preseason a year ago, and he made the most of his second chance.
He ended up starting all sixteen games and earned himself a new contract in the process. He didn’t have eye-popping numbers in the turnover department, with only two interceptions, no forced fumbles, and no fumble recoveries, but he affected the game in other ways. His 24 passes defended was tied for third in the NFL, and he was top ten among all corners in tackles with 68. He was also a physical presence in the Bears’ secondary.
In my opinion bringing Fuller back was the correct move, and even though his contract structure wasn’t ideal for the Bears, it’s not going to hamper them moving forward.
The Green Bay Packers gave the transition tagged Fuller a contract offer worth $56 million over four years, with an $18 million guarantee. The Bears quickly matched the offer, even though they waited the full allotted time before notifying the league office. His cap hit increases every season, but the 25-year old Fuller figures to be part of the Bears’ plans for the duration of his deal.
Right now, Fuller’s average of $14 million a year places him as the fifth highest paid corner in the NFL. That kind of money comes with a certain set of expectations, and while I don’t think the Bears need him to play like a top five corner, he is one of the most important players on the team.