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Akiem Hicks Could Be Next to Go

The Bears lost a vital part of their defense when 2014 first-round draft pick Kyle Fuller was cut due to salary cap purposes following an bit of a down 2020 season

In 2018 the Chicago Bears refused to let Kyle Fuller leave as a transition free agent and matched an offer sheet Green Bay signed him to after his career was resurrected the previous season by former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

On Thursday, the Bears cut Fuller.

Fuller was a salary cap victim as the Bears continued their 2021 free agency of misery.

The only remaining member of the 2018 secondary that helped the Bears make 27 interceptions is safety Eddie Jackson.

The dismantling of the defense promises to continue further because the Bears have given Akiem Hicks permission to seek a trade, according to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs. Like Fuller, Hicks' contract expires after this year and he has $10.4 million in salary on the deal.

Fuller last year suffered a drop in production, but not a huge one. He had a career-low one interception and made that in the season opener to key the comeback win over Detroit. He had only eight passes defensed, also a career low.

According to Sportradar, the league's official stat partner, Fuller's passer rating against improved to 89.8 from 102.0 last year, but it had been at 63.7 when he made All-Pro in 2018. He allowed 55.4% completions, his best since 2017.

The Bears may have just made cornerback a priority in the NFL draft after this move.

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They drafted Kindle Vildor last year and he saw action in the final three games and the playoffs after a shoulder injury shelved rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson. It's possible they would move him to that side for Fuller, or they could simply look for a lower-cost veteran in free agency.

Fuller still has plenty of playing time left in the league. He just turned 29 in February, so a team signing him would get a player in his prime.

Fuller was going to cost the Bears more than any player against the cap this season, at $20 million following the restructuring he agreed to last year. They save $11 million against the cap with his departure.

It was in 2016 when Fuller sat out the year because of a knee injury and then Fangio took him under his wing. The two became golf buddies and Fuller's attitude seemed to change. He became very competitive and started making interceptions.

In 2018 he tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions.

There were no other Bears cap cut victims on Thursday, though plenty of speculation centered around defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and now it appears he'll be leaving as well.

The Bears did lose another role player on defense, though, as defensive end Brent Urban signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Urban had become a fan favorite of sorts as a rotational defensive line player who had a guitar-playing routine after sacks. Now the Urban rocker will become an Urban Cowboy.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven