Probably the most controversial decision of the 2021 offseason came when the Chicago Bears chose to part ways with cornerback Kyle Fuller. Everybody sensed a move of some kind was coming due to the salary cap issues. Yet for GM Ryan Pace to willingly let a two-time Pro Bowler walk? He took a lot of heat from fans for that. Why him? Why not Jimmy Graham or somebody else at a less premium position?
The reality is it came down to two things. Cutting Fuller gave Chicago the most cap space in return and they also felt second-year man Jaylon Johnson was going to take a big step forward after his strong rookie season. Now with the benefit of hindsight? Pace 100% made the right call. Johnson has emerged as one of the best young cover corners in the league through the first six games. Fuller? He is having his worst season in years. QBs have beaten him 18 times for 302 yards, two touchdowns, and a 120.2 passer rating.
Now it appears his time in Denver may already be close to over.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) October 21, 2021
That would be a remarkable downturn of fortunes for Fuller. Just three years ago he was an All-Pro. Considered one of the best in the game after snagging seven interceptions. To go from that to ousted from two teams in the space of a few months? Pretty crazy to think about. Especially considering he had a chance to join a defense that was already pretty good and under somebody he knows well in Vic Fangio.
It seemed like such a slam dunk he’d have another good year. Yet for whatever reason, he isn’t making the plays he usually does. Opposing quarterbacks have targeted him more often than ever and aren’t afraid to. Try to imagine if that happened in Chicago and his contract was still on the payroll. How many people would be killing Pace for it?
Ryan Pace deserves credit where it is warranted
The Bears GM isn’t perfect. He has made mistakes. Some of them were pretty costly to the overall state of the franchise. That said, he has also made his fair share of good decisions too. One underrated quality he seems to have is knowing when it’s time to move on from a player. Be they older or injured. There are few examples of the Bears letting a player walk where they ended up excelling for long in their new homes.
Fuller is the latest example. Ryan Pace made a judgment call. Does he try to squeeze one more good year out of the cornerback or does he take the salary cap and anticipate a 29-year old cornerback might end up declining in the next couple of years? He chose the latter. Time has proven him correct.
Fuller is gone and the Bears defense is still good.
It’s fine if you don’t like Pace, but at least give him credit for making the difficult (and correct) decision. This is why the defense remains in good hands. Sure, the offense is another story but that is for a different discussion at a later date.