The transition tag also affords the Bears more time than the July 15 franchise tag deadline to hammer out a long-term deal with the DB. His 22 pass breakups were tied for second in the National Football League, including six in Week 16, the most by any player in one game in 2017.
The 26-year-old cornerback is essentially like a restricted free agent now. Though Smith did play better later in the year under assistant head coach-defense John Pagano, that was because he was used situationally and to his strengths.
A first-round draft pick in 2014, Fuller appeared in all 32 games over his first two seasons and had 19 passes defensed with six interceptions.More news: Australia: Cardinal George Pell's sex abuse hearing begins
More news: Comcast Outbids Fox for Sky
More news: Warren Buffett says Berkshire needs to do 'huge acquisitions'
Last offseason, the Bears opted to decline the fifth-year option on Fuller, which would've applied to the 2018 season. He came back in 2017 and had another solid season, rehabbing his value.
The last player to get the transition tag was tight end Charles Clay in 2015. If the Bears refuse to match, they would receive no compensation. Instead, Fuller is owed $12.97 million on the transition tag.
The Bears have plenty of money to keep Fuller and now seem motivated to retain their original investment.
While some speculated there might be hesitation to give Fuller a tag after his knee injury, GM Ryan Pace clearly figures he is worth at least one more season to see if he can become the player they believed him to be before his injury. He collected three interceptions and two forced fumbles in his first three games of his rookie season.