The Chicago Bears received some pretty darn good play from their cornerbacks in 2017.
The Chicago Bears have a need for playmakers at cornerback in 2018.
Unfortunately, both statements are true because the Bears’ starting cornerbacks last season – Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller – are impending free agents, who could command top dollar after solid seasons in Vic Fangio’s defense. Indeed, as it stands, Fuller and Amukamara both check in on Pro Football Focus’ list of the 50 best unrestricted free agents. Fuller ranks 24th and is the third-highest-rated cornerback in the group, while Amukamara ranks 27th overall and fourth at the position.
You can check out PFF’s Free Agent Guide — which features player grades, profiles, advanced stats, and more — in its entirety with a PFF Edge/Elite subscription package. It could come in handy throughout the offseason.
But while PFF sees the Bears as the best fit for the two top wide receivers who could hit the free agent market in March, the same can’t be said about Fuller and Amukamara. PFF’s Free Agent Guide lists the Texans as the best fit for Fuller and the Jets as the team that best suits Amukamara. In fact, the Bears could be in danger of losing their top three cornerbacks, as the Chargers are listed as the best team fit for slot corner Bryce Callahan, to boot.
Seeing quality Bears defenders as best fits for another team is unsettling, but GM Ryan Pace could have the team in the mix to bring back any of the three. Amukamara is the most experienced and has been the steadiest player over the course of his career. Fuller, 25, arguably has the most upside and untapped potential as he still struggles to haul in interceptions that hit him in the hands. Callahan has been the Bears’ best slot corner three years running and has speed to burn, but injuries have cost him a chance to further develop and add more responsibilities as an outside corner to his skill set.
Does that leave anyone as a fit for the Bears? Of course.
Meet Bashaud Breeland, the 25-year-old Redskins cornerback who checks in at No. 37 on PFF’s list of the 50 best free agents … and the only cornerback in that group connected to the Bears as a fit.
Breeland is the headliner of the group of defenders who are Bears fits and is joined by Bengals edge defender Chris Smith (age 25), Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson (28), and Chiefs safety Steven Terrrell (27).
Breeland, who’s missed just four games in his four year career and started 57 of the 60 games he appeared in during his four-year stint in Washington, has come away with eight interceptions, forced seven fumbles, and two recoveries throughout his career. Put differently, he’s a capable starting cornerback, but isn’t quite a lock-down defender at his position.
And while the Bears might be viewed as the best fit for Breeland, he does rank behind both Fuller and Amukamara, which is quite a bummer. Plus, depending on your perspective, Breeland might not be the best fit for Chicago’s defense given what we know about what the Bears had with their trio of free agents.
So while adding Breeland to the cornerback mix would be nice, it would still be a significant loss if Fuller, Amukamara, and Callahan all walked away. And yet, there is a non-zero chance of that happening. Fuller, Amukamara, and Callahan each graded out as above average players in 2017. And in the case of Fuller and Amukamara, re-established themselves as solid NFL starters. Teams should be in hot pursuit of all three if the Bears don’t retain them before hitting free agency.