Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bears officially use transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller

Mar 6, 2018 at 12:40 PM--

The Chicago Bears made a move on Tuesday to prevent cornerback Kyle Fuller from getting away too easily. The team applied the transition tag on Fuller at the cost of $12.97 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That means Chicago is free to match any offer the 26-year-old cornerback receives on the open market. However, should they refuse to do so, the Bears will not receive any compensation from a team that signs Fuller.

"If you've got a player that you think is a good player, transition tag, that's a problem because somebody with a lot of money out there can frontload [a contract] to the point that you don't want to have to deal with it or maybe give you a structure maybe you don't want to have to deal with," said former NFL executive Charley Casserly on NFL Network regarding the Bears' decision to use the transition tag on Fuller.

Using the transition tag, which pays the average of the top 10 salaries at the position, rather than the franchise tag saves the Bears just $2 million from the $14.98 million franchise tag cost for cornerbacks in 2018. However, Chicago currently has over $62.5 million in salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com, so a long-term deal for Fuller is not out of the question.

Cornerback is a position of need for the San Francisco 49ers. The team ended the 2017 season with rookie Ahkello Witherspoon and veteran Dontae Johnson, who is scheduled to become a free agent, as starters.

Reports have stated the 49ers could be front-runners to land Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson and 49ers receiver Pierre Garçon attempted to recruit New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler last month.

Fuller, who played college football at Virginia Tech, was the 14th-overall draft pick by the Bears in 2014. He missed the 2016 season following arthroscopic knee surgery that eventually landed him on injured reserve. Fuller did not miss a game during his other three NFL seasons.

In 2017, Fuller registered 69 combined tackles, 22 passes defensed, and two interceptions. However, he graded 21st among cornerbacks last year and had a position-leading 21 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

During Fuller's three healthy NFL seasons, he registered 188 combined tackles, 41 passes defensed, eight interceptions, and three forced fumbles in 48 game appearances and 46 starts.

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