Chicago Bears: Why Ryan Pace should get a pass on these two 2021 “mistakes”

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
Chicago Bears, Kyle Fuller
Chicago Bears Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears and Ryan Pace should have kept Kyle Fuller

Losing Kyle Fuller this offseason hurts. He was one of my favorite players and I always found him to be underrated by most. Just as the Andy Dalton complaints, I have seen many fans claim that allowing Kyle Fuller to go was a big mistake by Ryan Pace. Cutting Fuller instead of Jimmy Graham is what I have seen mostly discussed.

Once again, Ryan Pace deserves a pass on this “mistake” as well. Let’s back up to 2018 when Pace signed Kyle Fuller to a four-year deal worth $56 million dollars. This made Fuller one of the highest-paid corners in the NFL — rightfully so coming off a First-Team All-Pro season where he picked off seven passes. He backed that up with a Pro Bowl year in 2019 but struggled to make splash plays in 2020.

Don’t take that last part as I think Fuller regressed. Just because he did not have the interception numbers, does not mean he was bad in 2020. His advanced stats still put him towards the top of the league. However, Fuller was set to earn $20 million dollars in 2021. Cutting him saved the team roughly $11 million dollars and was necessary to get under the salary cap heading into the start of the new league year — cutting Jimmy Graham at the time was not enough.

Graham would have saved the Chicago Bears $7 million in cap space. An additional move or two would have had to accompany the move — something the organization clearly did not want to do. Now, backloading Kyle Fuller’s contract obviously caught up to Ryan Pace and the Bears, so why does Ryan Pace get a pass? The simple answer is COVID-19.

The salary cap dropped for the first time in over a decade due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead of seeing an increase, the league saw roughly a $15 million decrease. In fact, the swing was nearly a $30 million dollar difference. The Chicago Bears attempted to convince Kyle Fuller to restructure his contract and take a pay cut, but Fuller rightfully declined. This is a business and Fuller deserves every dollar he has earned.

When it comes to the Chicago Bears salary cap situation, had there not been a pandemic, Kyle Fuller would still be in a Bears uniform. This is something that no team could account for and the Bears were not the only team having to make tough cuts. Pace went all-in on while Mitch Trubisky was on his rookie contract and it did not pay off. Should they had extended Trubisky, I would have expected his contract to be backloaded as well.

Next. Justin Fields already embracing Packers rivalry. dark

To sum everything up, Ryan Pace deserves a pass for signing Dalton because no one knew for sure Justin Fields would be here and the contract is very team-friendly. Pace deserves a pass on the Kyle Fuller situation because no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic. This does not mean he shouldn’t be criticized, let’s just stop calling them “mistakes” because they are not.