Bears to Part Ways With Veteran Defender: Report

Bears cut Buster Skrine

Getty Buster Skrine of the Chicago Bears makes a tackle

Buster Skrine’s days with the Chicago Bears are reportedly coming to an end. As reported by top NFL insider Adam Schefter, Chicago has decided to release the veteran cornerback two years in to his three-year deal.

As noted by The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain, the move will create $2.7 million in cap space if the cut happens prior to June 1, and $5 million if it occurs after the first of June. Skrine played in 12 games this past season before going down with a concussion Week 12. He didn’t play after that, leaving many fans and analysts concerned about his overall health. It was the sixth concussion of the 31-year-old corner’s career, which has left major cause for concern.

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Skrine Has Been Solid Veteran Presence at Corner for Chicago

The Bears signed Skrine to a three-year, $16.5 million contract in 2019, with $8.5 million guaranteed, per Spotrac. He played in 28 games for the Bears over the last two seasons, starting seven. He had 114 total tackles, three forced fumbles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits in his two years with the Bears. He didn’t register an interception in Chicago, and while he was great against the run (he earned a 86.4 grade on run defense from Pro Football Focus this year), his coverage left much to be desired at times.

Per PFF, Skrine allowed a 123.1 passer rating when targeted this past season. He missed eight tackles on the year, which isn’t bad — he received a 70.8 tackling grade from PFF — but considering his primary responsibility is coverage, his 46.2 coverage and 52.3 overall grade leave much to be desired.

Still, he was a solid compliment to All-Pro Kyle Fuller, and he was an excellent mentor to the likes of Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley. Expect Shelley and Vildor to now compete to fill Skrine’s vacated role.


Skrine’s Injury History Has Left Cause for Concern

After suffering the sixth concussion of his career Week 12 last season, Skrine didn’t suit up again. He didn’t miss a game in 2019, but his luck turned in 2020, and now, the Bears will be looking to fill his shoes in the secondary.

His coaches have had nothing but good things to say about the 10-year vet from the moment he set foot in the Windy City. His versatility — he played both slot and nickel for the Bears, filling in wherever he was needed — will certainly be missed. “He’s one of the better nickels in this league, if not the best. I mean, he’s good. He’s a good nickel in there,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said, via Adam Jahns, about Skrine prior to the team signing him in 2019.

Whether Skrine plays again, and for whom, are yet unknown. The veteran corner said the following back in 2018:

“I feel like if I have signs, if I don’t feel well, then I’ll make the best decision. … My mom says, ‘Make sure you put your health first. Always be honest with yourself and your health.’ … A player never really knows how many concussions he’s had, because you’re hitting so much. You might have a concussion, and you don’t know, and you just think you’ve got a headache.”

Hopefully, Skrine is in good health and good spirits regardless of where he ends up.

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