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Chicago Bears 2020 Roster Turnover: Questions at cornerback

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 2020 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

Tennessee Titans v Chicago Bears Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Kyle Fuller - Signed through 2023 - Fuller made his second consecutive Pro Bowl for the Chicago Bears, and even though his interceptions and passes defended were down, he had a career high 82 tackles. Fuller has always been a physical player, and with a better pass rush in 2020 he should see his picks and PDs improve.

Prince Amukamara - Released - Cutting Prince saved the Bears $9 million, so it was an obvious move from general manager Ryan Pace to let him go. His declining production, cap hit, and age (31 in June) made it almost impossible to justify keeping him on the roster.

Buster Skrine - Signed through 2021 - Skrine played better than a lot of people thought he would, but I always thought he would fit in nicely with the Bears. He’s a physical player that can get too handsy when a play takes a long time, but with better talent around him I guessed he’d settle down. While Skrine was at nickle for the Bears in 2019, he has plenty of experience playing outside too, so depending on how the roster shakes out he could be in the mix to start opposite Fuller.

Duke Shelley - Signed through 2022 - Shelley has nickle size (5’9”, 183), but with Skrine playing so well in 2019 the sixth-round pick couldn’t get on the field. He only played 8 snaps on defense and another 53 on special teams as a rookie. He might be another year away getting any significant run on D, but if Skrine is forced to play the boundary it could be a trial by fire for Shelley.

Kevin Toliver II - Signed through 2020 - Toliver was the first outside corner off the bench the last two years, and his playing time increased a bit from 135 defensive snaps as a UDFA rookie in 2018 to 175 snaps last season. Are 310 snaps enough for the Bears to decide if Toliver has the skill-set to man the job? I would love to see the 24-year old step up and take control of one cornerback spot, but I haven’t seen enough from him to believe it’ll happen.

Tre Roberson - Signed through 2021 - Roberson was a highly coveted defensive back from the Canadian Football League, but he’ll still have to prove he can make the jump in competition. It’s not like the 27-year old is getting huge money (2 years / $1,335,000 / $75,000 guaranteed), so his roster spot is far from being a lock.

Remember the Bears signed CFL Eastern Division All-Star Jonathon Mincy in 2018 and he didn’t even make the team.

Roberson, who was a college QB at Indiana and then Illinois State, spent 2 years learning how to play corner on the Vikings practice squad before making 10 interceptions in 2 years with the Calgary Stampeders. In a recent interview on Bears All Access Roberson said that his instincts and knowledge from playing quarterback have helped his transition to corner.

CFL: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier Crawford - Signed through 2020 - The Bears are Crawford’s third team since being a UDFA out of Central Michigan in 2018.

Stephen Denmark - Signed through 2020 - Denmark has some serious length (6’3”) and athleticism, but his technique was a work in progress after changing from receiver to corner in 2018 at Valdosta State.

Michael Joseph - Signed through 2020 - Joseph has been a solid preseason player for the Bears since 2018, and he finally made the active roster for a couple games a year ago.

Josh Simmons - Signed through 2021 Released - Simmons isn’t listed on the roster from the Bears website, but he’s listed at both Over The Cap and Spotrac. He was waived/injured last year and when he went unclaimed he reverted back to Chicago's injured reserve list. His inclusion from those two salary cap sites could just be a bookkeeping thing and he’s not really a part of the Bears moving forward. Either way, I don’t see the former Limestone Saint making the team. (EDIT: Simmons was waived on 3/11/20)

2020 OUTLOOK - I have a feeling the Bears are going to ride with what they have unless a veteran shakes loose as a cap casualty, but even then he’ll need to come in at a very low salary. Between Toliver, Roberson, and Skrine, one of the three could emerge as the starting boundary corner opposite Fuller.

It’s also likely that the Bears turn to the draft to shore up the depth at the position and our own draftnik, Jacob Infante, thinks Iowa’s Michael Ojemudia would be a nice pickup. Here’s what he had to say about him.

Death, taxes, and me falling in love with an Iowa defensive back. Ojemudia is an intelligent, fluid and lengthy defender who would be great value for the Bears in Round 4.

What do you guys think the Bears will do at corner in 2020?