The Denver Broncos will likely be in the market for a starting cornerback in free agency, and Prince Amukamara could be targeted if let go by the Bears.
The Denver Broncos will undoubtedly be active on the 2020 free agent market at the cornerback position.
With Chris Harris Jr. set to test the open market and let other teams come after him and offer him the contract he feels he deserves, many feel like the Broncos are set to lose a player who will go down in franchise history as one of the best to don the orange and blue.
So what are the contingency plans?
As of right now, there are so many options to explore and we will explore many of them between now and the start of free agency, but one particular scenario that makes a lot of sense involves a player who is not even a pending free agent.
Many on Broncos Twitter have pointed out that one of the likely casualties of the Chicago Bears’ current salary cap situation is cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Amukamara obviously thrived in Vic Fangio’s defense, especially in 2018 when he only allowed 57.3 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed.
This past season, Amukamara was once again effective, allowing over 66 percent of passes his way to be completed but surrendering just two touchdowns in 15 games.
He’s not on the top tier of cornerbacks in the NFL, but Vic Fangio’s defense is less dependent on star corners and more dependent on the pass rush getting home, which is why the return of Bradley Chubb and hopefully spending money on the defensive line in free agency will result in the defensive backs prospering.
Why would the Bears cut Amukamara if he’s a good player? Well, the answer to that question is simple, really — money.
The Bears currently have just over $6 million in cap space, which is barely enough to sign a draft class much less make improvements to their roster. We know Chicago, with jobs on the line, is not just going to stand pat this offseason, so the first place you look for potential roster cuts is the team’s top 10 2020 cap hits and then zero in on the ones with the lowest dead money.
Amukamara has a 2020 cap figure of $10 million, the eighth-highest figure on the Bears’ current payroll, with a dead money figure of just $1 million.
Ideally the Broncos would be able to wait for the Bears to simply cut Amukamara and let him pick his team, but with just a $9 million base salary, some team may be willing to throw a late-round pick at the Bears for him. That’s probably unlikely, though.
Because the Bears can so easily save $9 million against the cap by releasing Amukamara, it seems like it’s merely a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.
There’s also this bit of news that came out on Wednesday:
The move to sign Roberson certainly gives the Bears insurance if they want to move on from Amukamara, and it makes more sense now after this move even if it already made sense before.
Amukamara will turn 31 this offseason, so he’s not a young dude by any means, but he can still play and he’s worked well in the Fangio defense before.
Signing a guy like Amukamara would allow the Broncos to continue developing the young talent on their roster and would give them an opportunity at flexibility in the 2020 NFL Draft at the cornerback position.
At this point in time, it’s merely a thought, but there are dots connecting Amukamara and the Broncos, and signing him would not count toward the 2021 compensatory pick formula, if the Broncos are worried about that.