Kyle Fuller To Patriots? Why Deal Wouldn’t Make Sense For New England

The veteran corner reportedly could be traded before the deadline


Oct 27, 2021

The Patriots need help at cornerback, and Kyle Fuller reportedly is available ahead of next Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.

So, a deal for the two-time Pro Bowler might make sense for New England, right? Well, not so fast.

Obviously, with slot corner Jonathan Jones now done for the season, the Patriots would be in a better spot had they not traded Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago. But it is what it is at this point, and New England is left with a brutally thin secondary that can hold up against the New York Jets but not so much against teams like the Dallas Cowboys.

Be it a trade or free agency, the Patriots likely will look to add a cornerback in the near future. But don’t expect that player to be Fuller, who now is with the Denver Broncos after spending six seasons playing for the Chicago Bears, with whom he earned two Pro Bowl selections and one All-Pro nod.

Here are three reasons why a Kyle Fuller trade wouldn’t make sense for the Patriots:

This is pretty straightforward. The Patriots currently have roughly $4.1 million in cap space, per salary cap guru Miguel Benzan. Unless Denver restructures Fuller’s contract, any team that acquires the 29-year-old would pay him a prorated version of his 2021 salary, with that team being on the hook for just over $5.7 million if it were to acquire Fuller this week. That number would decrease to roughly $5.2 million next week, and so on.

So, the Patriots currently couldn’t fit Fuller under their cap. They could make some roster adjustments to make the money work, but is Fuller worth it?

A few years ago, Fuller was one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL. In 2018, he was the seventh-ranked corner on Pro Football Focus. In the three seasons since, he’s been ranked 64th, 52nd and 110th, respectively. Fuller, who signed a one-year contract with the Broncos during the offseason, hasn’t played much in Denver and has seen his playing time further decrease since the return of Ronald Darby.

He played just two defensive snaps in Week 6 and didn’t see a single snap during last Thursday night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Fuller simply might be in need of (another) fresh start, but it also is possible that he no longer is any good. It happens to every player, eventually.

This is something Bill Belichick typically doesn’t care about, and likely never will. But, man, would this trade be a bad look for the Patriots.

Fuller and Gilmore will make roughly the same amount of money for the rest of the season. Gilmore has yet to play for the Panthers, and it remains to be seen whether he can return to the level of play he enjoyed before tearing his quad late last season. Gilmore, now 31, was having a down season before suffering his injury, but he still was a starting-caliber NFL cornerback. It’s hard to imagine him returning and playing worse than Fuller has.

The compensation in a hypothetical Fuller trade is anyone’s guess, but let’s just say it would be a seventh-round pick. The Patriots got a 2023 sixth-round pick for Gilmore.

In this scenario, the Patriots would have traded Gilmore for a sixth-rounder, then weeks later sent a late-round pick for an inferior player making the same amount of money, when they could’ve just kept the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Imagine if Belichick went off the reservation, like he did with the Mohamed Sanu trade, and dealt a fourth-rounder, or something.

No matter which way you slice it, there are few, if any, ways to justify a Fuller-Patriots trade — other than pure desperation.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris
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