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Kyle Fuller on the bubble after Bears decline fifth-year option

Cornerback Kyle Fuller's future with the Bears is up in the air after the Bears declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Kyle Fuller, the Bears’ 2014 first-round pick, will be facing a make-or-break season.

General manager Ryan Pace said that he will not pick up the fifth-year option on Fuller’s rookie contract. So Fuller, a starting cornerback his first two seasons before missing the 2016 season with a knee injury, will be a free agent in 2018.

Fuller was the 14th overall pick in 2014 by former general manager Phil Emery. He had an impressive start to his career with three interceptions and two forced fumbles in his first three games. But he had only three picks and one forced fumble in the next 29 games.

Pace has expressed hope that Fuller will return in 2017, but it’s clear he’ll have to battle for a roster spot in training camp. The Bears signed free-agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, who started in the NFL last season.

Good guy gone

The addition of Amukamara and Cooper made veteran Tracy Porter expendable. Porter was a starter in 2015 and 2016, but his performance declined last season as he struggled to play through a knee injury, and he was released April  10. The Bears saved $3.45 million in cap space by cutting him.

“We were adding more and more corners [in free agency],” Pace said, “and once it unfolded that way, I was looking at the construction of the roster and how everybody would fit in, and in fairness to Tracy, I thought it was good that we go ahead and do it at that time.”

Bears to sign NIU’s Bouagnon

Northern Illinois running back Joel Bouagnon from Aurora Christian was among eight undrafted free agents the Bears are expected to sign. The others are Florida State fullback Freddie Stevenson, Oklahoma State wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, Wyoming wide receiver Tanner Gentry, LSU tight end DeSean Smith, Old Dominion defensive tackle Rashaad Coward, Florida International offensive lineman Dieugot Joseph and James Madison offensive lineman Mitchell Kirsch.

On the Mark

Pace applauded the work of first-year director of college scouting Mark Sadowski.

“Outstanding,” Pace said, “highly organized, great with the staff, the morale of the staff. He’s a really good evaluator. Me and Mark go way back to New Orleans. I’m proud of the job he did.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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