Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller

Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports

Much Expected Of Bears' CBs After Big Investment

The Bears locked up Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara to long-term deals.

Greg Gabriel
July 11, 2018 - 2:38 pm
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Editor's note: This is the eighth in a 10-part series breaking down the Bears leading up to the start of training camp. Click here for other position previews.

(670 The Score) Entering this offseason, the Bears' cornerback outlook was uncertain. Incumbent starters Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara played quality football last season, but both were entering free agency. The Bears could ill afford to lose either if they sought continuity and strong play for 2018.

Their actions reflected that last point, as the Bears re-signed both.

After not picking up the fifth-year option on Fuller entering the 2017 campaign, the Bears watched him submit his best season, recording 69 tackles and two interceptions. So they placed the transition tag on him, then retained him by matching the Packers' four-year offer sheet worth up to $56 million deal. Not long after, Bears brass met Amukamara for dinner and assured him that he was an important part of their defensive plan. In short order, he agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $27 million.

The Bears have their starting cornerbacks locked up for the next three years, believing the 26-year-old Fuller and 29-year-old Amukamara both have their best football in front of them. Both proved to play well in zone and man coverage and are competent in run support.

In today’s pass-happy NFL, teams also need a reliable slot cornerback, as he plays about 70 percent of the defensive snaps. The Bears are confident in that regard with Bryce Callahan and Cre'Von LeBlanc set to compete for the spot. Both have flashed strong play in their time with the Bears. Going into training camp, Callahan probably has a slight edge in the competition, but it's close.

Behind them, there are some young players with talent but little experience. The group consists of second-year pro Doran Grant and rookie free agents Kevin Toliver II from LSU, Rashard Fant from LSU and Michael Joseph from Dubuque (Iowa).

Toliver is a former five-star recruit coming out of high school who never lived up to expectations while at LSU, but he's tall, fast and has press-man cover skills. Fant showed quality ball reactions and hands while at Indiana, while Joseph might have the best ceiling. The challenge for Joseph is that he's coming from a Division-II program. He may need a year on the practice squad.

The last cornerback Sherrick McManis, who isn't used much in coverage but is the Bears' special teams ace. The Bears rewarded him with a new two-year contract worth close to $3.5 million in free agency this offseason.

All told, the Bears cornerback corps is as good as it has been in a long time. There's experience and depth but also plenty of youth, with Amukamara being the elder statesman at 29. With the exception of Amukamara, the key cornerbacks have been with the Bears at least three seasons, so they understand the defensive scheme. Part of having a strong defense is experience and the knowledge of playing with one another.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.​​​​​​