SATURDAY: No 11th-hour trade ended up taking place. Fuller’s release became official Saturday. The Bears will save $11MM in cap space by cutting the seven-year veteran while incurring $9MM in dead money.
It sounds like the transaction was mostly a financial decision, with Rapoport noting that “this is Chicago’s only cut due to cap space.” ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweets that the Bears wanted Fuller to take a “very significant paycut,” but the player preferred to test the open market. The 29-year-old was due $14MM next season, and he had a pricey cap hit of $20MM.
The 2014 first-round pick became a fan favorite in Chicago, earning a pair of Pro Bowl appearances and one first-team All-Pro nod during his seven-year stint with the organization. Fuller departs the organization ranked fourth on the franchise’s all-time list in passes defended (82), and he’s ranked in the top-20 for tackles (390) and interceptions (19).
After getting his fifth-year option declined for the 2018 season, Fuller was slapped with the transition tag. He ended up inking a four-year, $56MM deal with the Packers, including $18MM guaranteed. The Bears matched the contract, keeping Fuller under contract through the 2021 season. Last offseason, the front office reworked the veteran’s contract. While the move saved the team $6.5MM at the time, it meant Fuller’s 2021 cap hit would jump from $18.5MM to $20MM.
While Fuller failed to earn his third-straight Pro Bowl nod, he still had a productive 2020 campaign. The cornerback started all 16 games for Chicago, compiling 65 tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception. He also started Chicago’s playoff loss to the Saints.
Fuller will surely be a popular target now that he’s hit free agency. William Jackson (Washington, three years, $42MM), Shaquill Griffin (Jaguars, three years, $40MM), and Patrick Peterson (Vikings, one year, $10MM) were among the top free agent cornerbacks heading into free agency. Cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes and Kevin King remain unsigned.
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