One of the better cornerbacks in the NFL may be about to hit the open market. According to multiple media reports, the Chicago Bears plan to release Kyle Fuller this week, putting a former All-Pro out on the market as a street free agent.
This is a move entirely focused around freeing up salary cap space. Fuller was due to have a $20 milion salary cap hit in 2020, and the release will designed to free up about $11 million in cap room. Interestingly, this contract is largely the work of the Green Bay Packers, who signed Fuller to an offer sheet in 2018 after the Bears assigned him the transition tag that offseason. The Bears elected to match that offer sheet, signing Fuller to the four-year, $56 million contract that he was set to finish out in 2021.
That offer sheet from 2018 was a clear sign that the Packers were interested in Fuller three years ago, and there is no reason to think that the team’s opinion of him has wavered since. Fuller made Pro Bowls in 2018 and 2019 and was a first-team All-Pro for the 2018 season, when he led the NFL with 7 interceptions and 21 pass defenses. Furthermore, Fuller turned 29 in February and shows no signs of slowing down, remaining healthy and available for every game over the past four years.
If the Packers make a run at signing Fuller, they will need to free up some significant cap space of their own. The Packers just freed up enough room to sign Aaron Jones by restructuring Za’Darius Smith’s contract, and there are only a few more places where Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball could trim off cap dollars for 2021. The most significant move would be to extend wide receiver Davante Adams, who has had some excellent battles with Fuller over the last few years and would surely love to work against him in practice rather than in games.
Adding Fuller to the Packers’ defense would give them one of the best 1-2 cornerback tandems in the NFL. Green Bay drafted Jaire Alexander six weeks after failing to land Fuller in 2018, and the young Packer has grown into a superstar over the past three seasons.
One final factor regarding Fuller’s availability is the fact that the Bears did not release him prior to the transaction deadline on Thursday. As a result, they could still move him in a trade if they find a suitor during the day on Friday, which would allow Chicago to dictate his destination.
Stay tuned for any updates regarding the Fuller situation and the Packers’ potential interest level in bringing him aboard for the 2021 season.