Bears quickly match deal to keep Fuller

Bears GM wastes no time matching Green Bay Packers' offer sheet on transition player

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Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) — Nam Y. Huh

Well, that didn’t take long.

Hours after it was reported that the Green Bay Packers had signed Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet, the Bears quickly matched it, keeping him in the fold. The terms of the deal: four years, $56 million (with $18 million guaranteed).

After the Bears had placed the seldom-used transition tag on Fuller – instead of the more widely used franchise tag – it opened the door for another team to sign him to a long-term contract, with the Bears given five days to match.

They didn’t even take five hours. Genearl manager Ryan Pace appeared to play this situation perfectly, and one could argue that new Packers GM Brian Gutekunst didn’t do nearly enough to dissuade the Bears from matching it. The transition tag had the Bears already on the hook for a $13 million (an average of the top 10 salaries at the position), as opposed to $2 million more for the franchise.

So with only $18 million of Fuller’s offer sheet with the Packers coming in guaranteed money, it was a no-brainer. The Bears in essence paid an additional $5 million (and avoided negotiating with him) for what amounts to a two-year contract. If Fuller doesn’t live up to the money at that point, the Bears likely can get out from under the deal while paying relatively affordable money for a player they view as their top corner.

Fuller rejoins recently re-signed Prince Amukamara in what could be a solid secondary next season, especially with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio back calling the shots for new head coach Matt Nagy.

Although Fuller played poorly enough entering last season that they refused to pick up his fifth-year option for 2018, he rebounded in a big way in 2017 and earned long-term money a year ahead of many other first-round picks from the 2014 draft class.

Meanwhile, the Packers still need a cornerback. And though it’s the offseason, the Bears will gladly celebrate this head-to-head victory against their rivals to the north.