Kyle Fuller didn’t even have a chance to let the idea of being a Packer sink in. That’s how quickly his long-term contract came together last Friday.
“It was a crazy time, a crazy experience,” Fuller said after the Bears needed less than two hours to indicate they would match the Packers’ offer sheet. “It was almost like [as soon as the Packers’ offer was official], it was a done deal and matched. I just went with the flow of everything. I wasn’t able to think too much about it.”
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The whirlwind contract scenario that kept Fuller with the Bears was a fitting conclusion to a year of rapid change of fortune for the 26-year-old cornerback. Last April, the Bears declined the fifth-year option on Fuller’s rookie contract after he missed the 2016 season with a knee injury. On Tuesday, Fuller effectively signed a four-year, $56 million contract — with $18 million guaranteed — when the Bears officially matched the Packers’ offer.
“It means a lot,” Fuller said. “Definitely happy to be back in Chicago. It was a crazy process, but I’m glad it’s over with.”
Fuller’s $14 million average annual salary is fifth in the NFL among cornerbacks, according to spotrac.com. Fuller has never made the Pro Bowl, but his 22 pass break-ups last season, with two interceptions and 68 tackles, convinced the Bears he is on the rise after a difficult 2016 season. Fuller was one of two players in the NFL to have 65 or more tackles and 20 or more pass break-ups.
“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top-10 defense, and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”
Fuller said he believes he is in a category with the elite cornerbacks in his salary range, but he knows he’ll have to get better.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Fuller said. “I’m looking forward to that — to continuing to learn and grow and get better.”
Though the price was steep, the Bears at least are keeping a productive player who has been in Vic Fangio’s system for four seasons. Cornerback Prince Amukamara, who re-signed with the Bears last week, said the likelihood of Fuller returning was a factor in his decision. Continuity on a top-10 defense generally is a good thing.
“Kyle studies like a quarterback,” Amukamara said. “All throughout the week — film, film, film, film. And notes, notes, notes, notes. And he’ll give me tips and we’ll help each other out. Just watching him prepare, that excited me, especially for him being so young.”
Fuller is all for the continuity with Amukamara.
“That definitely played a factor, just knowing what you have on the other side,” Fuller said. “I’ll be looking forward to it.”
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