The Chicago Bears shockingly opted to release former All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller on Thursday in a cost-cutting move that could be a precursor to adding more talent on offense.
This news comes to us via NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport and is one of the more surprising developments of the first week of NFL free agency.
Fuller, 29, has morphed into an elite-level cornerback since Chicago made him a top-15 pick from Virginia Tech back in 2014. He earned Pro Bowl appearances in 2018 and 2019 before taking a minor step back this season.
The Decision to release Fuller was purely financially motivated. It saves Chicago $11 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap. He will now join a weakened free-agent class, leading to major interest in the cornerback’s services.
Four potential landing spots for Kyle Fuller
Given that the cap has been lowered due to a revenue downfall created by COVID-19, most teams are not in great situations heading into the second wave of free agency. In fact, only nine teams have more than $20 million to spend against the cap.
This could potentially lead to a short-term deal for Kyle Fuller before he hits free agency next offseason when the cap is set to increase dramatically. In taking that into account, let’s look at four potential destinations.
New York Jets
New Jets head coach Robert Saleh values physical cornerbacks. That’s been the case since his days as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator. Despite his 5-foot-11 frame, Fuller has proven to be that throughout his NFL career. New York also has the most remaining cap room even after adding the likes of Carl Lawson and Corey Davis to the mix. It has a major need out on the boundary at cornerback. Fuller makes perfect sense.
Los Angeles Chargers
New Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is much like Saleh in New York. The former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator also values more physical cornerbacks. Think Jalen Ramsey. This was magnified after Los Angeles shockingly moved off Pro Bowl slot corner Casey Hayward earlier in the offseason. With a need at cornerback to go with the recently re-signed Michael Davis, Kyle Fuller would make a lot of sense. Los Angeles has $33.2 million to spend under the cap, meaning the finances would work.
Surprisingly, the Ravens’ defense gave up 22 passing touchdowns against 10 interceptions a season ago. They also lost Pro Bowl pass rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency. Simply put, Baltimore needs to find an upgrade in the slot behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. There’s a chance that Fuller transitions to that position for a Ravens defense that seems to fit his skill-set perfectly. This would be an interesting move.
Dallas has already been linked to free-agent 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman in recent days. Why not potentially get younger as the Cowboys transition on defense under new coordinator Dan Quinn? One of the downfalls for the Cowboys during their disastrous six-win 2020 season was pass defense. This unit yielded 33 touchdowns through the air against 10 interceptions. While Fuller wouldn’t change that by himself, he’d be a step in the right direction.