The Bears made the right decision to release Prince Amukamara, with the Bears announcing Friday that the veteran cornerback and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel will be cut. Those two moves save $13.5 million in cap space; Amukamara alone frees up $9 million.
But let’s take some time to appreciate what Amukamara brought to the Bears: Steady, clean press coverage, which isn’t exactly easy to find. Refs love to call ticky-tack penalties against cornerbacks, after all.
And yet: Amukamara was penalized only five times in 2019 — 42nd among all cornerbacks — but three of those were hands to the face flags, part of a bizarre early trend of officiating crews calling that foul against Bears players in the first four weeks of the season. Amukamara was only penalized once after Week 3 (his counterpart, Kyle Fuller, was flagged eight times in 2019).
Amukamara allowed a reception on one in every 14.5 coverage snaps in 2019, seventh among cornerbacks with 500 coverage snaps. He also wasn’t targeted much — only three cornerbacks with 500 or more coverage snaps were thrown at less than Amukamara (one target every nine coverage snaps), per PFF.
“I think it’s huge and he’s played consistent and he’s played well,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said last year. “And he continues to do that. It’s a big part. … I think any time those (cornerbacks) can get up and mess with the timing of the offense and throw that off and take away the guy that may be the first read, may not be the first read, it’s going to help your rush and your defense. So that’s important.”
Also: The Bears are losing their chief dance choreographer. He was the lead singer in the Bears’ awesome “Motown” celebration in Detroit on Thanksgiving in 2018, which spawned #BearsSingToAnything (definitely take some time to watch these again and remember the good times). A lot of the dance moves and celebrations you saw in 2018 came from Amukamara’s brain.
So while Amukamara didn’t have an interception in three of his last four seasons, he wasn’t thrown at much (his coverage skills had something to do with that). He’ll be missed, even if the cap-strapped Bears had no choice but to say goodbye to him.