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CB Kyle Fuller, Who Packers Coveted in 2018, Signs with Broncos

Kyle Fuller was named to Pro Bowls in 2018 and 2019 and had another strong season in 2020.
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Note: The Chicago Bears released cornerback Kyle Fuller on Saturday. Shortly thereafter, he signed a one-year deal with the Vic Fangio-coached Denver Broncos. Below is our story from Thursday night, when news broke that Fuller was on his way out in Chicago, and a midday Saturday update.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Just as the cornerback market was being picked over, a quality starter that Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has coveted in the past became available.

The Chicago Bears are planning to release or trade two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller, according to reports on Thursday night. As of midday Saturday, the Bears were still trying to work out a trade, according to a source.

Fuller immediately became an interesting target for the Packers, who have a hole at cornerback with Kevin King hitting free agency following another injury-plagued season.

In 2018, with the 2014 first-round pick hitting free agency, the Bears used the transition tag on Fuller. Nonetheless, Gutekunst signed Fuller to a four-year, $56 million offer sheet. Chicago matched it. It was a good decision by the Bears, with Fuller being named an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2018 with a league-leading seven interceptions and 21 passes defensed, and a Pro Bowler again in 2019.

“That particular player was rated very high for us,” Gutekunst said at the time while attending the NFL spring meetings in Orlando, Fla. “They put the transition tag on him, so we went down some other avenues. After we got through a certain period of free agency and we didn't feel there was any risk of tying those resources up for the time we'd have to tie them up, we thought it made sense to maybe go into that.


“I thought Russ [Ball] did a good job putting that together. But we knew the whole time, especially being within the division, that there was probably a small chance that we'd actually acquire the player.”

A couple years later, due in part to the impact of COVID-19, the size of that contract is why the Bears are getting ready to part ways. Fuller has a $20 million cap charge for the upcoming season, including a $13 million base salary.

Similarly, the impact of COVID could keep Green Bay from being a player. The Packers just barely squeaked beneath the cap at Tuesday’s deadline. Even without a big-ticket addition such as Fuller, they almost certainly have to make another big move – extending Davante Adams, for example – just to have the resources to sign the draft class and handle in-season transactions.

Thus, one league source didn’t expect the Packers to be a player this time. His opinion had not changed as of midday Saturday.

While Fuller didn’t make the Pro Bowl in 2020, he still had a high-quality season. According to Sports Info Solutions, he allowed a 53.7 percent catch rate and 6.4 yards per target. He had only one interception and eight passes defensed, both the lowest of his career.

Green Bay is looking for an upgrade over Kevin King, who is also a free agent. According to SIS, King allowed a 61.0 percent catch rate and 8.8 yards per target. While he allowed one touchdown in the regular season, he gave up two in the NFC Championship Game.

Crucially, Fuller has played in all 96 games in six seasons while King has played in only 41 of a possible 64.

In our pre-free agency ranking of the top 20 available cornerbacks, nine have been signed – including the top four. Five of our top seven slot cornerbacks have been signed, as well.

The Packers have been exploring the crop of free-agent cornerbacks, sources have said, but have found the price to be too high for anyone who would be a significant upgrade.