So much for getting through yesterday without a cap casualty. Those rumors about former All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller? Turns out they were true.
The Bears are releasing a key member of the defense because their cap management has been so excellent:
The #Bears are releasing veteran CB Kyle Fuller, sources say, a cap casualty. In a tough 2021 offseason, this is Chicago’s only cut due to cap space. A former All-Pro corner now hits the market.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
Fuller, 29, was set to count $20 million against the cap this year, but the release will save only $11 million. So the Bears eat $9 million in dead money against the cap this year, *AND* have a $3 million dead cap charge next year, per Over the Cap, *AND* another $1.5 million in 2023. Absolutely brutal. I have little good to say. Clearly there was no trade market at that price tag.
The Bears now have some additional funds available to deploy in free agency, but they also have a gaping hole at corner, with only Jaylon Johnson and … Kindle Vildor, I guess? Whew, good thing they got Andy Dalton in the door at $10 million.
We’ll have more on this move as the implications become clear, but one thing that is jumping out at me immediately: if GM Ryan Pace is feeling the heat, does this strike you as a WIN NOW move? Or does this feel more like something you’d do if you were open to retooling? Odd, right?
Fuller was a Bears first-round pick in 2014. He burst onto the scene with four interceptions and three forced fumbles as a rookie, but intercepted just four passes in his next 32 games. But a breakout was on the horizon. The breakthrough performance came in 2018, a year in which Fuller earned first-team All-Pro honors with a league-leading 7 interceptions and 21 passes defended. He backed that up with second consecutive Pro Bowl nomination a year later. Fuller came away with just one interception last season, but he was still one of the league’s best and most respected corners. In short, replacing him will be tough.
UPDATE: No surprise that the Bears tried to work it out, but hard to blame Fuller for thinking he might be able to top whatever significantly less than a $13 million base he was going to get:
The Bears tried to keep Kyle Fuller by asking him to take a VERY significant paycut, but he would rather test the market, per source.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) March 18, 2021
Luis Medina contributed to this post.