The Denver Broncos have won games and Super Bowls with their defense. As they prepare for the 2021 season under defensive-minded coach Vic Fangio, the club could be targeting a cornerback who would help this defensive improve significantly next season.
After days of speculation, the Chicago Bears plan to release cornerback Kyle Fuller. After a down year in 2020, coming off consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, Chicago made its top defensive back one of the NFL’s latest cap casualties. While the 29-year-old corner is widely expected to generate plenty of free-agent interest, one potential destination is already emerging.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Broncos are expected to make a strong push for Fuller once he is released in the coming days by Chicago.
While the Bears wanted to keep their top cornerback, the shrinking NFL salary cap and a $20 million cap hit made that impossible. Following the signing of Andy Dalton and Allen Robinson agreeing to the $18 million franchise tender, cutting Fuller became inevitable. Barring a sudden trade, which is unlikely given his cap number, Fuller will soon be free to sign with any NFL team.
Examining Fuller’s potential impact on Denver Broncos’ defense
Denver needs to upgrade at cornerback. The club hoped A.J. Bouye would solve their woes on the outside, but he struggled with injuries and inconsistency last season. The Broncos released him early in the offseason, using the cap space to find his replacement.
The organization struck quickly, signing cornerback Ronald Darby. Darby will fit nicely as a No. 2 cornerback in Fangio’s defense, but this unit also needs someone who can match with top wide receivers. Fuller has a reputation for doing just that and has a history with Fangio.
Some of Fuller’s best seasons in Chicago came when Fangio called the defensive plays. The 62-year-old coach served as the Bears’ offensive coordinator from 2015-’18. Fuller received a 79.0 grade in pass coverage from Pro Football Focus in 2017, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 69.0 passer rating when they targeted him. He was even better in 2018, receiving an 84.1 coverage grade and allowing just a 66.6 passer rating.
Fuller would immediately become Denver’s No. 1 cornerback, rounding out this secondary nicely. With Fuller and Darby on the outside and Bryce Callahan in the slot, passing against this defense would become extremely challenging. Furthermore, the return of Von Miller to pair with a healthy Bradley Chubb should make Denver’s pass rush far more effective in 2021.
If a deal happens, Denver can feel confident about its secondary for at least the next two seasons. With that weakness addressed, the Broncos can dedicate their top picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to fortifying the offense.