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Chicago Bears 2019 Roster Turnover: How big a need is cornerback?

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In this 13 part series we’ll take an in depth look at each position group for the Chicago Bears with an eye towards the 2019 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

Chicago Bears v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Kyle Fuller - Signed through 2021 - When the Chicago Bears matched the offer sheet to retain Fuller, that made him one of the higher paid corners in the game, but the Bears believed he could take his game to another level. He had a good year in 2017, but the Bears saw the potential in him to get even better and they were rewarded with All-Pro play from Fuller last season. He led the league in interceptions (7) and in passes defended (21), plus he was his usual physical self with 55 tackles.

Prince Amukamara - Signed through 2020 - Prince will be making $9.5 million in 2019, which is a big cap number, but his play last year warrants it. If he has another good year I’d imagine the Bears would be content letting him play out his deal at $10 million in 2020, but if he falters at all there’s an out in his contract with only a million dollar cap hit. He could also be in line for a restructure before the 2020 season when he’ll be 31-years old.

Bryce Callahan - Free agent - Callahan was one of the best nicklebacks in the league last year, but for the fourth consecutive season with injuries prevented him from playing all 16 games. He’s steadily increased his games played all four years (9, 11, 12, 13), but the injury history is something the Bears will need to consider when offering him a contract.

Spotrac predicts his market value to be around $7 million a year and that would make him one of the higher paid slot corners in the game. This is the high end I could see the Bears offering him. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes there a scenario where the New York Jets go after Callahan with a 4-year deal worth $36 million because they need a slot corner to slow down the Patriots, and $9 million a year for a nickleback would probably be out of the Bears range.

I have a feeling that teams may not want to go too high on a contract with Callahan’s injury history, and that the Bears will get him back around that $7 million a year figure.

Sherrick McManis - Signed through 2019 - McManis was more than just a special teamer last year with 236 snaps on defense. He played some dime and he was the back up at nickleback, while still getting in 252 snaps on special teams. His cap hit is almost $2 million in 2019, but I think he sticks around.

Kevin Toliver II - Signed through 2020 - Toliver was the first outside corner off the bench for the Bears as a rookie last year and I thought he handled himself well. He played 135 snaps on defense and another 112 snaps on special teams. At 6’2” he has good length, but we’ll need to see how the new defensive coaching staff views him as a prospect.

John Franklin III - Signed a reserve/futures deal - Great athlete, great speed (4.3 forty), good size (6’1”), but still trying to learn how to play corner.

Michael Joseph - Signed a reserve/futures deal - The local product (Oswego High School) will try and earn another spot on the practice squad again.

Jonathon Mincy - Signed a reserve/futures deal - I though Mincy’s versatility would get him on the field last year after coming over from the CFL, but he spent all his time on the practice squad. In camp last year he played corner and safety, so we’ll need to see how the new defensive regime views him future.

Marcus Williams - Free agent - The Bears added Williams when they lost Callahan last year, so he could be back on a vet minimum deal.

Rashard Fant - Signed through 2020 - According to Spotrac and Over The Cap, Fant is signed with the Bears through 2020, but he’s not listed on their current roster. He was waived last year with an injury designation, went unclaimed, then technically reverted to Chicago’s IR list, but he’s not listed there either. I think technically his contract may still be valid with the Bears

2019 OUTLOOK - I think Callahan returns, but I still have corner as a need for the Bears in the 2019 NFL Draft. His injury history coupled with Prince and McManis both being over 30 when the season starts makes me want to see another guy added. I’m also not sure if Toliver is a viable long term answer, so getting another guy in to compete is a must. You can never have enough corners. In my latest T Formation Conversation podcast, I asked EJ Snyder to give me a couple corners the Bears could target late in the draft.

I don’t expect them to go the free agent route to add at the position unless it’s to add a high ceiling (low cost) youngster to the mix. If Callahan leaves my guess is they fill the role in house.