By: Thomas Gibbons
The Bears may not have beaten the Packers since Thanksgiving Day in 2015, but on Friday they were 1-0.
The Bears matched the Green Bay Packers offer sheet for Kyle Fuller, keeping the former first round pick in Chicago. As reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Netowork, the deal is reportedly a 4-year deal worth $56 million, with effectively $29 M guaranteed at signing.
First off, it was no surprise that a team was going to give Fuller an offer sheet. Also reported by Rapoport, another team besides the Packers attempted to sign Fuller but was denied. So why was the Packers accepted? Money talks in free agency. Even if Fuller wanted to stay in Chicago, he accepted the offer sheet to drive up the price for himself.
After the Packers signed Fuller to an offer sheet, the Bears had five days to match it. General manager Ryan Pace did not wait long to match. And it was the right move.
Pace and the Bears could not afford to see Fuller walk out the door. Even after missing an entire season in 2016, Fuller shined in 2017, earning himself a big pay day in free agency. After failing to agree to terms on a deal, the Bears placed the transition tag on Fuller, allowing them to match any offer. It was a better decision than the franchise tag because the Bears do not have to worry about trying to reach a deal next off-season. Pace cannot afford to have another situation like Alshon Jeffery where the Bears let him walk and failed to replace him.
Fuller, 26, proved why he was a first round draft pick back in 2014. His rookie season was impressive, followed up by a mediocre sophomore season. Then, he missed all of 2016 after what was explained as a minor knee scope.
In training camp of last season, Fuller’s name came up a lot in terms of a possible trade candidate or simply getting cut. The Bears signed Price Amukamara and Marcus Cooper to be their starters, giving the impression the Bears have given up on Fuller. But Cooper struggled, launching Fuller back into the starting role and finished the season with 22 passes defended. Incredible.
With this deal done, I’d say this is the last “splash” the Bears make in free agency. There will be some minor depth moves but the Bears have done the majority of their work. They have surrounded Mitchell Trubisky with weapons and minds in the quarterback room with bringing in Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray. Fuller is locked up and on Thursday, the Bears added Aaron Lynch to their outside linebacker group.
Pace has done an exceptional job this off-season, on paper at least. We will not totally know how he truly did until the pads go on and the season starts in September. But the excitement is real. Bears fans are itching for the season and of course I am as well. The Bears have a young roster with a direction that is clearer than years past.