Free-agent cornerback Kyle Fuller agreed to join the Denver Broncos on a one-year deal on Saturday, March 20. Official terms are yet to be released, but sources close to the deal say it's worth an estimated $9.5 million, with $9 million guaranteed.
Following the parting of company with 2020 CB AJ Bouye earlier in the off-season, Denver acted quickly to add Fuller to their roster after his release from a cap-heavy Chicago Bears roster.
But will (and just how much will) signing the former Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University product improve the Broncos defense in 2021?
Well, in my opinion, the arrival of Kyle Fuller will improve the Broncos defense. How he does that all will boil down to three crucial components head coach Vic Fangio patently considered before signing off on the deal.
Let's take a look:
Kyle Fuller and fellow new signing Ronald Darby are highly-skilled and versatile defensive pieces
After struggling through 2020 with an unfortunate bout of injuries in the cornerback position, the Broncos decided to make upgrading their secondary a big priority this off-season. In fact, Denver had already signed former Washington cornerback Ronald Darby before they zeroed in on Kyle Fuller. But is the duo the right CBs for Denver?
Well, in truth, both Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby were a touch below their very best form in 2020: Kyle Fuller was solid in coverage but made just one interception and ranked 51st in the league for PDs; Darby, meanwhile, led the league in forced-in completions but allowed the second-most yards in coverage by a cornerback.
If you combine the two guys, you will get a Hall-of-Famer!
Don't get me wrong; despite inconsistencies in their 2020 production, Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby have top-level experience and quality skillset.
They are dynamic, athletic cornerbacks and versatile to boot, with both men capable of playing in the left and right cornerback positions. In fact, it's not yet entirely clear which side of the field the new signings will cover once autumn rolls around.
But experience and versatility will get you far in the NFL, so the pair's arrival definitely strengthens the Broncos no end, from that perspective.
Kyle Fuller, in particular, maybe coming off the back of an average season, by his standards. But x2 Pro Bowls in the past three seasons and a career haul of 19 interceptions, 82 passes defended and 390 tackles in 96 regular-season games should tell you all you need to know about the pedigree of the former Bear.
Kyle Fuller can also put a hit on a player when he gets the chance!!Fans always have plenty of time for these kind of players...
Kyle Fuller and Vic Fangio have worked together before and with plenty of success
Before joining Denver as head coach, Vic Fangio spent four highly-successful years as the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator, where he worked alongside a young Kyle Fuller.
It was during Fangio's tenure in Chicago, fans got to see the very best of Kyle Fuller.
Kyle Fuller was most at home in Fangio's press coverage and bump-and-run schemes due to his ability to play zone and also the physicality with which the 6' cornerback sets about his business.
Fuller is just a Fangio-style cornerback: a big guy who can halt receivers at the line but is also able to get his hands dirty in coverage and come up with big plays and even bigger hits. It was a match made in football heaven!
It was during Fangio's time with the Bears, Kyle Fuller tallied a career-best seven interceptions in 2018 and made the first of his two trips to the Pro Bowl (2018 and 2019).
If the Broncos coach can get him back to that kind of level, it would bode very well for Denver's prospects in 2021.
Kyle Fuller's arrival adds depth to what was a depleted-looking roster in Christmas last year
In preparation for the 2021 campaign, the Broncos will no doubt be looking forward to welcoming back CB Bryce Callahan, who spent most of last season on IR, as well as sophomore CB Michael Ojemudia, who featured 11 times last season as a rookie.
With Kyle Fuller and Roland Darby arriving to replace the departed Bouye, the Broncos' already respectable pass defense could emerge as one of the NFL's premier units. Such is their strength in depth, Fangio's ensemble could survive another injury crisis if one were to break out in 2021.
In truth, even without their injured stars for large swathes of 2020, the Broncos ranked first in the NFL in red-zone defense. So with their most recent upgrade at cornerback, it's only natural to assume that Denver will improve its PFF-ranked 13th-best pass defense come autumn: Darby, Callahan and Fuller, with Motley, Bassey and Olemudia in reserve will make for a pretty solid-looking locker room!
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