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The Chicago Bears matched the Green Bay Packers’ four-year, $56 million offer sheet for cornerback Kyle Fuller on Friday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Fuller will reportedly earn $18 million guaranteed after the Bears initially signed him to the transition tag worth a shade under $13 million.
Fuller missed the entire 2016 season with a knee injury, but he returned to the field in 2017 and enjoyed a strong campaign.
In 16 starts, he recorded a career-high 68 tackles and 22 passes defended to go along with two interceptions.
While the Bears struggled as a whole in 2017, their defense was a pleasant surprise. It ranked 10th in total defense, ninth in points allowed and seventh against the pass.
Although Chicago was only tied for 29th in the NFL with eight interceptions, the secondary was arguably the best part of its defense, and Fuller spearheaded it.
The Bears selected Fuller with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft out of Virginia Tech.
He was an immediate starter and was among the best rookie defenders in the league, recording 64 tackles, four picks and three forced fumbles.
Fuller followed up with 54 tackles and two interceptions in 2015 before missing the 2016 campaign.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding his health, the Bears declined to exercise the fifth-year option in Fuller’s contract for the 2018 season.
He proved to be healthy and productive in 2017, however, giving him a ton of negotiating power this offseason.
At just 26, Fuller is entering his prime and trending toward being one of the top corners in the league.
That made it paramount for the Bears to retain him, although they do have solid cornerback depth with Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan and Cre’von LeBlanc still in the fold.
Fuller has elite-level potential, though, and if Chicago can continue to build around him, he figures to be a cornerstone member of a contending team in the future.