It didn’t play out the way the Bears imagined after overhauling the cornerback position for 2017, but the results had to be as good as they could have believed possible. General manager Ryan Pace made a concerted effort to import two starters at the outset of free agency, signing Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara. The feeling at the time was they were ranked in that order — Cooper as the top option and Amukamara as an experienced, quality No. 2. The team had no expectations for Kyle Fuller at that point after he missed the entire 2016 season following arthroscopic knee surgery. It was March and there was no way of figuring what Fuller would look like when he got on the field in the spring. What the Bears knew is what they saw on the field in August 2016, and then for a brief period in practice late in the season, wasn’t good enough. Fuller was a true wild card, and counting on him would have been a mistake. So they went out and got Cooper — who had brief experience with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell at the beginning of his career in San Francisco — and were able to work things out with Amukamara when the multiyear payday he was seeking didn’t materialize. Cooper was 27 and had played well enough opposite Patrick Peterson in Arizona to believe he was an ascending player. He signed a three-year contract for $16 million that the Bears hoped would turn into a bargain. Amukamara signed for one year at $7 million, and with Fuller and a handful of other options on hand to consider on the outside, and with Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc returning to compete for the nickel position, the Bears felt they were in a far better place than when injuries had left them short-handed and exposed in the secondary.
At a position of flux, Kyle Fuller helped Bears cornerbacks excel
Chicago Tribune | Feb 18