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Kyle Fuller played in the Pro Bowl in January 2020.
Kyle Fuller played in the Pro Bowl in January 2020. | Steve Luciano, AP Photos

One of the last vestiges of the previous regime, Fuller was general manager Phil Emery’s last first-round pick.

The Bears are cutting cornerback Kyle Fuller rather than pay his $20 million salary cap charge this season, NFL Network said Thursday night.

One of the last vestiges of the previous regime, Fuller was general manager Phil Emery’s last first-round pick. The Virginia Tech alum was drafted No. 14 in 2014, one spot after defensive lineman Aaron Donald, whom the Bears coveted.

Fuller started 30 games in his first two years but sat out all of 2016 after having knee surgery late in camp. In the 2016 offseason, general manager Ryan Pace chose not to pick up his 2018 fifth-year option, then watched Fuller emerge in 2017 as one of the best cornerbacks in the game.

Pace gave him the transition tag in 2018, which allowed the Bears to match a monster offer from the rival Packers: four years at $56 million. He made the Pro Bowl the next two seasons, and tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions in 2018. He totaled only three interceptions since, but his tone-setting physicality has made him one of the NFL’s most unique cornerbacks.

When the Bears restructured Fuller’s deal a year ago, it ensured he would cost $20 million against the 2021 salary cap unless the Bears signed him to an extension first. The Bears began the league year Wednesday under the cap, but needed to create more space to facilitate the signing of quarterback Andy Dalton, tackle Germain Ifedi and others.

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