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Free-agent setup: Bears should work to keep Fuller

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The Sports Xchange
Chicago Bears defensive back Kyle Fuller attempts to tackle Philadelphia Eagles ballcarrier Mack Hollins during their game in November. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Chicago Bears defensive back Kyle Fuller attempts to tackle Philadelphia Eagles ballcarrier Mack Hollins during their game in November. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Cornerback Kyle Fuller had a statement season in 2017 after the team refused to pick up his fifth-year option. The Chicago Bears must decide whether Fuller's two interceptions, 22 passes defended and passer rating against of 69.0 represent a trend or contract-year trap.

Fuller's tackling and desire were obvious, and he built a solid relationship with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Considering Fuller was one of their few corners who showed an ability to make a play on the ball for an interception-starved defense, the Bears can be expected to make a strong bid to retain him.

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But tagging him at $14.2 million seems unlikely, considering they also can draft a cornerback early. Cap money for Fuller is no problem, especially after the decision not to pick up guard Josh Sitton's option freed up $8 million more. If they can't sign him, an alternative is retaining Prince Amukamara, their other free-agent starting cornerback. Amukamara lived down to his reputation of all-coverage, no-interceptions. Expect him to leave if they spend money on Fuller.

The other major concerns are keeping punter Patrick O'Donnell, who has steadily improved throughout his first contract, as well as figuring out a mediocre lot of free-agent receivers. Dontrelle Inman, Kendall Wright and Josh Bellamy represented 80 percent of Bears wide receivers' receptions and 79 percent of wide receiver yards. All are free agents. It wouldn't be surprising if only Bellamy is retained because of special teams skills. The Bears can be expected to look into a thin free-agent market for receivers more suited to their new RPO-based offensive style.

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Unit-by-unit depth chart as of Super Bowl LII. Injured players listed as starters if that was their status when injured.

*Asterisk indicates player ended 2017 season on injured reserve.

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QUARTERBACKS (C-minus): Starter - Mitchell Trubisky. Backups - Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez (UFA).

RUNNING BACKS (B-minus): Starters - Jordan Howard, FB Michael Burton. Backups - Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham (UFA), Taquan Mizzell.

TIGHT ENDS (D-plus): Starter - *Zach Miller (UFA). Backups - Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker.

WIDE RECEIVERS (D-minus): Starters - *Kevin White, *Cameron Meredith. Backups - Dontrelle Inman (UFA), Kendall Wright (UFA), Josh Bellamy (UFA), Markus Wheaton.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (C): Starters - LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Josh Sitton (UFA), C Cody Whitehair, RG *Kyle Long, RT Bobby Massie. Backups - G *Eric Kush, C Hroniss Grasu, T Bradley Sowell (UFA), G Tom Compton (UFA), G *Jordan Morgan, T Brandon Greene, G Cameron Lee.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (B): Starters - LDE Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, RDE *Mitch Unrein (UFA). Backups - DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Roy Robertson-Harris, NT John Jenkins (UFA), DE Rashaad Coward.

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LINEBACKERS (B-plus): Starters - LOLB *Leonard Floyd, ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB Danny Trevathan, ROLB *Willie Young. Backups - OLB *Pernell McPhee, OLB Sam Acho (UFA), ILB Christian Jones (UFA), ILB John Timu, OLB Lamarr Houston (UFA), ILB Jonathan Anderson, OLB Howard Jones, ILB *Jerrell Freeman (subsequently released), OLB *Isaiah Irving.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (B-minus): Starters - LCB Kyle Fuller (UFA), SS Adrian Amos, FS Eddie Jackson, RCB Prince Amukamara (UFA). Backups - CB Marcus Cooper, S Deon Bush, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, S *Chris Prosinski (UFA), CB Bryce Callahan, CB Cre'Von LeBlanc, CB Sherrick McManis, DB Deiondre Hall, S *Quintin Demps.

SPECIAL TEAMS (C-plus): K Mike Nugent (UFA), *K Cairo Santos (UFA), P Pat O'Donnell (UFA), KOR/PR Tarik Cohen, LS Andrew DePaola (UFA), *LS Patrick Scales.

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