Kyle Fuller

Broncos Shopping Kyle Fuller

The phone lines are still open in Denver. The Broncos are pushing to trade Kyle Fuller between now and this afternoon’s deadline, according to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Broncos Trade Miller To Rams]

This jibes with recent talk of the Broncos fielding calls on their corners and safeties — both Fuller and Kareem Jackson have drawn interest from rival clubs. Fuller may have been a hotter property earlier this year, back when the Saints were searching high and low for cornerback help. New Orleans ultimately turned to the Texans, swinging a September trade for Bradley Roby.

Fuller, a former first-round pick of the Bears, has 99 career starts to his credit across seven seasons (not counting his missed 2016 campaign). His best work came in 2018, when he led the league with seven interceptions and 21 pass deflections en route to a First-Team All-Pro nod. His 2019 encore also earned him a second straight Pro Bowl selection.

Fuller has slipped down the depth chart in Denver, but he should hold some appeal as a rental for contenders in need. The Bucs, for example, could see Fuller as a logical fill-in for their banged-up secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Broncos, Cards, Hicks, Hawks

The Bears briefly entertained the prospect of trading standout defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, but they reconsidered and brought the former All-Pro back for his sixth season in Chicago. Shortly after free agency began, the Bears gave Hicks permission to find a trade partner. Nothing materialized, but the Chargers were monitoring this situation through the preseason, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (ESPN+ link). Hicks, 31, has a history with Bolts HC Brandon Staley, who was on the Bears’ defensive staff — as outside linebackers coach — under Vic Fangio from 2017-18. The 11th-year veteran’s contract expires at season’s end. Should the Bears falter against a tough October schedule, Hicks could be a name to watch as the Nov. 2 trade deadline approaches. The $7MM-plus left on his 2021 salary would be a difficult accommodation for most teams, but that number will drop closer to $5MM by the deadline. A groin injury sidelined Hicks in Week 5, but he remains on the Bears’ active roster.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Staying on the trade front, the Broncos received inquiries on their two contract-year corners — Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan — along with Ronald Darby. The veteran defenders came up in talks leading up to the season, but new Denver GM George Paton set a fairly high asking price. The Broncos sought a third- or fourth-round pick in a deal for one of their vets, Fowler adds, scuttling talks. The Saints made a strong push for Fuller, which came months after New Orleans’ aggressive pursuit of Denver’s No. 9 overall pick — which was used to take Patrick Surtain II. While Denver has made multiple deadline deals in recent years, involving receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it would likely take a tumble out of contention for the team to deal from its corner surplus.
  • The Cardinals are likely to be without Chandler Jones as they attempt to move their unbeaten run to 6-0. While vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart, Kliff Kingsbury said Jones is experiencing symptoms and that it would be “a stretch” for him to play against the Browns, via SI.com’s Howard Balzer (on Twitter). Jones is vaccinated. News of the veteran pass rusher’s positive test circulated Tuesday, creating a narrow window for him to recover in time.
  • Arizona will also be without center Rodney Hudson. The acclaimed O-lineman is battling a rib injury, and Kingsbury declared him out Wednesday. Seventh-year pro Max Garcia will step in for the Cards’ Pro Bowl snapper.
  • Blake Bortles auditioned for the Seahawks on Tuesday, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes they are not expected to sign him (Twitter link). Seattle instead re-signed Danny Etling, who was with the team from August 2020 to August of ’21. Etling is currently on the Seahawks’ practice squad. Bortles has not been able to land a steady gig since the 2019 season, when he backed up Jared Goff with the Rams.
  • Pete Carroll said Tre Flowers did not request to be waived, Condotta adds (via Twitter). The Flowers transaction went through Wednesday, so a claim would surface by Thursday afternoon — if a team is to claim the fourth-year cornerback. The Seahawks have used former second-round pick Sidney Jones in Flowers’ place in the past two games.

Teams Calling Broncos On Cornerbacks

The Broncos exited last season with no proven cornerbacks available, with Bryce Callahan injured and A.J. Bouye suspended. Teams have now observed Denver may have a surplus at this position.

Teams have called the Broncos about their depth, with Mike Klis of 9News noting some are eyeing Denver’s corner group. The Broncos cut Bouye but retained Callahan. They then added Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free agency and drafted Patrick Surtain II ninth overall, passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to do so.

We’re fortunate we have a player in Surtain that can play multiple positions at a young age,” first-year GM George Paton said, via Klis. “Not many rookies can play three positions. It’s a really good problem to have. It’s Vic [Fangio‘s] problem, but you can’t have enough of those guys. Corners, a lot of them go down so we’re really happy with our depth. We have a lot of teams calling us on our depth. But we like our corners, that’s for sure.”

Denver has an interesting mix of midlevel contracts — Callahan, Darby and Fuller are each signed to deals averaging between $7-$10MM per year — at corner, along with Surtain’s rookie-deal salary. The Broncos also used a third-round pick on Michael Ojemudia last year. Nickel sets generally call for three cornerbacks, potentially leaving teams wondering if the Broncos are open to moving one of their vets, though dime sets and others in which the team’s top four corners play together are likely in Fangio’s plans.

The Broncos are using Surtain at multiple spots, and Callahan and Darby bring injury pasts creating a need for depth. Callahan ended the 2018 and 2020 seasons on IR and missed all of the 2019 season. Darby was sidelined for 20 games from 2017-19. Denver’s depth may be limited to just 2021, with Callahan and Fuller on one-year deals, but it will nonetheless be interesting to see how the Broncos proceed at this spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Sign CB Kyle Fuller

Less than an hour after Kyle Fuller officially became a free agent, he has a deal in place. The Broncos will sign the recently released cornerback, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

This pact will reunite Fuller with former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The Broncos, who were expected to be interested, will sign Fuller to a one-year deal worth $9.5MM. Fuller’s 2018 All-Pro season came in Fangio’s defense, and he will join ex-Bears teammate Bryce Callahan in Denver. On this quickly developing deal, Fuller will collect $9MM fully guaranteed, per Pelissero.

The Broncos freed up some cap space by extending Justin Simmons on Friday. They now have three veterans in place at corner, with Fuller and Ronald Darby joining Callahan. While the Broncos had assembled a top-tier corner crew in the mid-2010s, their No Fly Zone troops are all now either retired or elsewhere. The team lacked depth at this position over the past two seasons but will now boast extensive experience here.

Fuller, 29, struggled early in his Bears career. Chicago did not pick up his fifth-year option in 2017, but after Fuller’s breakthrough 2018 campaign (NFL-high seven interceptions), they gave him the transition tag and matched a Packers offer sheet for him. However, the Bears cut him after seven seasons this week. Fuller made immediate sense for the Broncos, with Fangio having coached him for four seasons. Fuller has made two Pro Bowls — in 2018 and ’19 — and helped the Bears to three straight top-10 DVOA defenses, though Pro Football Focus rated his 2020 work just outside the top 50 at his position.

While the Broncos have three veteran salaries at corner now, none of the cogs are earning more than $10MM per year. Darby is at $10MM annually, while Callahan is going into the third and final year of his $7MM-AAV pact. Callahan played well when available last season, ranking as a top-five corner in the view of Pro Football F0cus, but the standout slot defender has missed 22 games since signing with the Broncos in 2019.

This signing lessens the Broncos’ need at corner, where mock drafters frequently have connected them with their No. 9 overall pick. GM George Paton has (understandably) said quarterback will be in play with that selection.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Expected To Pursue Kyle Fuller

Now a free agent, Kyle Fuller figures to have some options. One will be in Denver with his former defensive coordinator.

The Broncos are expected to make a “strong push” to sign the veteran cornerback, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Vic Fangio coached Fuller for four seasons as Chicago’s D-coordinator. New Denver GM George Paton was with the Vikings throughout Fuller’s Bears career.

It should not be ruled out, as the Raiders have shown this week, that the Bears could find a trade partner at the 11th hour. But the team likely discussed Fuller with other teams before cutting him. Fuller was due to make $13MM as part of his 2018 contract, which the Packers constructed after the Bears transition-tagged him.

While the Broncos made a key addition in Ronald Darby, they still have a need at cornerback. They also roster ex-Fuller teammate Bryce Callahan, who is going into his third season with the team. Callahan has shown the ability to play outside and in the slot, his strength, but he has battled significant injury issues that would prevent the Broncos from counting on him. Callahan missed all of the 2019 season and was limited to 10 games last season.

Denver entered free agency targeting more than one cornerback, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the team made an offer to Michael Davis early this week (Twitter link). The Chargers, however, re-signed Davis. Fuller, 28, certainly carries a higher profile. The Broncos not adding another will make corner a logical target at No. 9 overall.

The Bears drafted Fuller before Fangio’s 2015 arrival, taking him in the 2014 first round, but he still broke out during Fangio’s run. The Bears passed on Fuller’s fifth-year option in 2017, but he delivered a first-team All-Pro 2018 season in Fangio’s Chicago finale. Considering the Packers signed Fuller to the offer sheet three years ago, they may be back in the mix for him as well. Other teams figure to inquire too, but Fangio’s presence may be pivotal for the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/10/21

The restricted free agent and exclusive rights free agent tender decision deadline is a little more than a week away. Some teams are already making their calls in advance of March 17. We’ll keep tabs on the latest here:

RFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered: 

ERFAs

Tendered:

Dolphins Cut Kiko Alonso

The Dolphins cut Kiko Alonso en route to reaching the 53-man max. Both moves were rumored this week, but the Fins were waiting to see if they could arrange a trade for the linebackers before letting them go.

Alonso requested a trade during training camp when he realized that he would be squeezed out of the Dolphins’ plans in one fashion or another. New coach Brian Flores is overseeing a defensive overhaul and he didn’t have much use for the veteran, despite his three years of starting experience in Miami. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso won’t play out the two years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.

Here are the other moves made by Miami to make their roster kosher by Week 1:

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Buffalo Bills 

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: OL Jamil Demby (from Lions practice squad)

Miami Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/11/18

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Los Angeles Rams

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed off Cowboys’ practice squad: S Tyree Robinson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Promoted from practice squad: TE Tanner Hudson
  • Placed on IR: LB Kevin Minter

Washington Redskins