Last March, the Packers made a bold move to try to pluck a defensive back away from the rival Bears, offering cornerback Kyle Fuller a four-year, $56 million contract while he was under the transition tag. It took the Bears mere hours to match the offer.
One year — and an All-Pro nod for Fuller — later, the Packers finally landed a Bears defensive back, agreeing to sign safety Adrian Amos to a four-year deal Tuesday. They paid dearly to do so, giving him a reported $21 million in the first two years and $37 million overall.
The Bears deserve credit for drafting Amos in the fifth round out of Penn State and helping him to develop into free-agent prize. But his salary was one they simply couldn’t justify, given that they’ll owe fellow safety Eddie Jackson — another first-team All-Pro — a contract extension next year. The Bears were never likely to devote that much cap space to one position group.
The Packers have had no problem spending money in the first wave of free agency. On Tuesday, they agreed to sign two edge rushers. Ex-Raven Za’Darius Smith got four years and $66 million, and former Redskin Preston Smith got $52 million over four years. They’ll replace Clay Matthews, who is a free agent, and Nick Perry, whom the team released Tuesday. Former Broncos offensive lineman Billy Turner got a four-year deal worth $28 million, too.
Amos was solid in starting 56 games in his four seasons with the Bears. He was an analytics darling: Pro Football Focus rated him the third-ranked safety in the last three seasons combined, behind only former Seahawks star Earl Thomas and the Vikings’ Harrison Smith.
While the Packers found value in such stability, the Bears will seek a more affordable replacement, be it through free agency or the draft. Both are considered deep at the position, which is crucial, given that the Bears don’t draft until the third round this year.
The Bears could turn to backup Deon Bush, who started the last two regular-season games and the playoff game against the Eagles in place of Jackson, who sprained an ankle while returning an interception by Packers star Aaron Rodgers in December.
A fourth-round pick in 2016, Bush has one forced fumble and one sack in three seasons with the Bears. He has one year left on his contract.