When general manager Ryan Pace re-signed both Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara this offseason, he ensured that the entire starting secondary would return for another year. In fact, assuming he can lock up Adrian Amos on a long-term extension, the Bears' secondary could be intact for several more seasons.
All four starters enjoyed something of a breakout year in 2017. Fuller had by far his best season as a pro, one that was rewarded with a massive four-year, $56 million contract. Amukamara proved he's still a reliable starter with first-round pedigree and the duo of Amos and Eddie Jackson has fans excited about what could be a combination of elite young safeties.
The Bears' secondary is so intriguing, in fact, that it was listed as a contender to become the NFL's next Legion of Boom, a moniker made famous by the dominant Seahawks secondaries during their Super Bowl run.
It took a little free-agency finagling, but the Bears managed to hold on to every key member of their underrated secondary from last season. Cornerback Kyle Fuller was the biggest get, signed to a four-year, $56 million extension, and the fifth-year pro will have the chance to show that his breakout performance in 2017 (two picks and 22 passes defensed) was no fluke. Opposite Fuller, reliable veteran Prince Amukamara comes back on a three-year, $27 million deal, and is flanked by promising slot corner Bryce Callahan, who signed a restricted free-agent tender to stay with the team.
Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson look primed to emerge as one of the best young safety duos in the league. The Bears have the foundation for a top-tier unit—a group that finished 10th in DVOA without pressure last season—and they have a chance to prove they belong among the elite in 2018.
It's been a while since the Bears had a secondary with this much promise. Back in 2005, Chicago's starters included Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Mike Brown and Chris Harris, a group that was productive in coverage and timely with turnovers. This season's core group may be even better.
The final 10 players on this year's list of NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2018 were revealed Monday night, bringing a close to a countdown that was once again void of any Chicago Bears.
Our John "Moon" Mullin recently published a great breakdown of the "escalating cause for concern" for a Bears team that continues to get shut out in the annual vote. You can check it out here.
But just because no one on Chicago's roster made the cut doesn't mean they didn't have a few who deserved to. Here are three Bears who warranted strong consideration to be among the NFL's upper class.
How was Hicks not on this list? The mammoth defensive end had a career-best 8.5 sacks in 2017 and was a disruptive force all season long. He ranked as a top-15 defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus, earning a career-high grade of 87.1 from the analytics giant. Hicks was the focus of opposing offensive lines week in and week out and despite all the attention paid to contain him, he still produced at an extremely high level. This snub, combined with being passed up for the Pro Bowl (he was a fourth alternate), should add fuel to his fire in 2018.
Howard's stats may have dipped a bit in 2017, but the fact that he was able to eclipse 1,100 yards and score a career-high nine touchdowns in an offense that had no threat in the passing game to challenge defenses is a credit to just how good his year was. It's mind-boggling that a player like Carlos Hyde, who had fewer yards, touchdowns and yards-per-carry than Howard, could make the Top 100 list over him. File this away as yet another piece of evidence in the growing case of Howard being one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
Amos emerged as one of the Bears' best players on defense last season and while he may have the weakest argument to be on the Top 100 list, the analytics suggest otherwise. He was the second-highest graded safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus and changed the complexion of the defense once he re-entered the starting lineup. Amos set a new career-high in tackles (60) and recorded his first career interception, one he returned for a touchdown in Week 6's three-point win over the Ravens. Compare Amos' 92.0 grade to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who made the list despite being ranked No. 40 among safeties in 2017 by PFF.
The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.
Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:
Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85).
Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.
Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.