Unsettled Secondary Means Drafting for Need


All the talk about the Bears drafting a quarterback centers around a future need, possibly more than one year in the future depending on what Andy Dalton shows.

The discussion about drafting a left tackle is a projection for the future, as well. They have a starting left tackle.

They also have wide receivers signed at every position, even if it would be of benefit to bring in faster players.

The position where the Bears have a drastic need for a big talent upgrade is at starting left cornerback, where Kyle Fuller played. If anyone forgot, they don't have a slot cornerback either, unless the 118.7 passer rating against and 80% completions allowed by Duke Shelley from last year as Buster Skrine's replacement count.

In fact, at the moment they don't even have a legitimate starting safety alongside Eddie Jackson

The Bears secondary is in tatters as free agency enters its later phase, the time when bargain players are available because they are not of high quality or have aged to where they no longer are.

If there was one situation which earned GM Ryan Pace more universal condemnation it was how the Bears' cap situation chased off former Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller to Denver.

"We explore everything, before those moves are made," Pace said during Friday's press conference.

Pace took a slight issue with some of the reports about the salary figures being tossed about in Fuller's case, but one which isn't debated is he is taking up $9 million of dead cap space from the salary cap in 2021.

"But we go through those things, we explore all those scenarios before those moves are made, including trades or reductions or what-not and that's just the way it worked out," Pace said. "So at the end of the day we wish (Fuller) nothing but the best and we feel fortunate to be able to add a guy like Desmond Trufant."

Trufant is a risk because he went on injured reserve each of the last two years and had a hamstring problem bad enough he could play only six games for Detroit last season. He's in his 30s now, so the age and the injury situation make for a total unknown. Maybe the Bears get a year or two from him, maybe not.

"We got a lot of confidence in Jaylon Johnson and his growth in his second season," Pace said.

Johnson plays on the other side.

"We feel really good about Kindle Vildor—I thought he got valuable play time late in the year playing outside (cornerback for the injureds Johnson)," Pace said. "He's a good, young player that we drafted and got better the more he played.

"And with Trufant, I think you go back to him—he's an experienced corner. We feel fortunate we were able to attain him the way we did when you look at it."

It's possible Trufant might be too experienced.

The safety position isn't much better, but at least Deon Bush has been a starter and could be a second safety if no one is planning to bring back Tashaun Gipson.

"We were fortunate to get Deon Bush back," Pace said. "We've got a lot of young players there that are growing."

Actually, at safety they don't, unless journeyman special teamer Marqui Christian, former Chiefs backup Jordan Lucas, sixth-year safety DeAndre Houston-Carson and unsigned 33-year-old Sherrick McManis count.

"We're still technically in free agency, so we're still working through some things on that end," Pace said. "There's still some guys out there. That was a deep position in free agency this year, so we're still working through that, along with the draft.

"I feel like the puzzle's kind of halfway done right now as we're through this offseason. With eight picks in this draft, which is a lot for us, we're excited about that."

With three starting positions unsettled in the five secondary spots and the Bears with less than $1 million in cap space now, the tough part of the puzzle is still to be put together.

 The answer for some of this better be picks made fairly early in the draft.

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