After re-establishing himself as a solid NFL cornerback with a 2017 season in which he earned a career-best 81.2 grade from Pro Football Focus, Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara could have chosen to sign almost anywhere.
In fact, after a 5-11 season in Chicago, it would have been understandable had he taken his talents elsewhere. But he didn’t. Instead, Amukamara decided to stay in Chicago. And as it turns out, some of that had to do with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and his belief that Trubisky could lead the Bears to a Super Bowl title.
“I want to win a championship, and I think having Mitch here, I think that’s always the start,” Amukamara said after a post-practice press conference on Day 2 of OTAs. “The quarterback’s always the start.”
Given that the Bears have decidedly not been a very desirable destination for NFL free agents in recent years, this counts as a positive development (so does the signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and others, but still).
Amukamara expressed a desire to return and work with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio when he re-signed in March, going as far to tell his agent he didn’t want to hear from teams other than Chicago during the free agent process. As it turns out, there’s more to like about the Bears beyond the highly-respected defensive coordinator. That a defensive leader like Amukamara cites Trubisky as a reason he would re-sign with the team should be considered a sign that things are moving in the right direction.
Indeed, it sounds like the seeds were planted for a return long ago: “I’m sure some people saw, but even when Mitch was the backup, Mitch was staying after practice and always working hard and you love seeing that in a quarterback, especially a backup,” Amukamara said. “I’ve always just saw greatness in him ever since then. I think this year he gets to really show it.”
One of the things that stood out during training camp (when it was open to the public) was Trubisky hanging around after practice and working on the center-quarterback snap exchange and throwing passes to some of the younger pass-catchers in camp. So to see a veteran like Amukamara take notice, you know that had to go over well.
There is a growing belief in Trubisky’s ability to lift the Bears to new heights, even though he hasn’t played a single down in Matt Nagy’s offense. It all began with GM Ryan Pace’s conviction on draft day to move up and select Trubisky with the second pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. That feeling has since extended to Nagy and his top assistants, as well as free agents like Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson who cited Trubisky as a reason why they signed with the team. It’s easy for guys on the offensive to crush on Trubisky’s talent and upside, but it means a little more when you’re seeing the love spread by players on the other side of the ball.
Hope spring eternal this time of year. But if you were buying theoretical stock in the Bears’ future, now would appear to be the time to do so.