Buster Skrine wasn’t the most exciting cornerback on the market. In fact, I’d struggle to call him an upgrade over Bryce Callahan (who happens to be the player he’s effectively replacing). But Skrine is a defender whose durability (and relatively low cost compared to Callahan’s market value) was likely a selling point during the free agent process.
Callahan provided splashy plays and upside during his four years with the Bears, but never completed a full 16-game season. Skrine, by contrast, might not have Callahan’s big-play potential, but flashed a similar skill set in moments and had a tendency to answer the bell when the time came.
Let’s get to know him a little better.
Player, Age (in 2019), Position
Daryl Hank “Buster” Skrine, 30, cornerback
- 3 years, $16.5 million
- $8.5 million guaranteed
- $4.25 million signing bonus
- $$5.5 million average salary
- via Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle
- Season stats: 14 games (11 starts), 0 interceptions, 8 passes defended, 1 forced fumble (1 recovery), 1/2 sack, 4 tackles-for-loss, 2 quarterback hits
Skrine’s Pro Football Reference profile notes that he lined up at cornerback, linebacker and strong safety in 2018. The versatility is a plus, but the lack of splash plays (sacks, tackles-for-loss, quarterback hits, interceptions, passes defended, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries) is unsettling, to say the least. What might be even more troubling are Skrine’s grades from Pro Football Focus.
According to the site’s metrics, Skrine allowed a 124.2 passer rating when targeted in coverage and earned a 50.8 coverage grade. Yikes!
But look at that beautiful head of hair.
- Career stats: 123 games (85 starts), 9 interceptions, 77 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles (4 recoveries), 3.5 sacks, 457 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, 9 quarterback hits
- Per 16 games: 1 interception, 9.6 passes defended, 59.7 tackles, 1.8 tackles for-loss, 1.1 quarterback hits.
- Pro Football Focus grades: 54.8 (2011), 63.0 (2012), 54.2 (2013), 58.0 (2014), 52.6 (2015), 59.2 (2016), 65.9 (2017), 57.3 (2018).
Skrine has played under former Bears head coaches (Dick Jauron was his first DC), active Packers coaches (DC Mike Pettine was his DC after Jauron was jettisoned), current Bears employees (consultant Brad Childress was the Browns OC in 2012, Special Teams Coach Chris Tabor was in Cleveland from 2011-2014), and friends of Matt Nagy (played for Todd Bowles from 2015-18). What does it mean for Skrine’s future with the Bears? At minimum, Skrine having been seen by Childress and Tabor should mean the team won’t be going into this new deal blind.
Other than that … nothing. It was just fun to connect all those dots.
#Jets really dialed up the pressure in the first half. Buster Skrine looked shot out of a cannon on this corner blitz. … Skrine was effective as a blitzer in 2015 before he got nicked up. pic.twitter.com/8l6WFZSqSo
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 22, 2018
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 15, 2017
— Greg (@GregArmstrong_) March 12, 2019
A knee injury in 2016 put an end to an impressive 87-game active streak for Skrine. Later that year, he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss another week of games. Otherwise, Skrine has been a beacon of health throughout his NFL career.
A Scouting Report in 280 Characters or Less
Skrine is an aggressive, physical CB who plays his best in the slot. Quick feet + speed. Will show up vs. the run game, too. Can get grabby in coverage (penalties). And the technique needs to be more consistent. But as a Nickel CB, the traits are there to fit in Bears D. https://t.co/i1vFMMtC9b
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 12, 2019
Perhaps the best is yet to come for Skrine, who will be playing in a secondary with two first-team All-Pros, a front seven with a pair of Pro Bowlers, and in a spot where he won’t be asked to line up outside the numbers. It’s possible that playing with a star-studded Bears defense in the slot will allow for Skrine’s strengths (speed in quick bursts, physical nature, willing tackler, effective blitzer) to show up more often than his weaknesses (oh, those pesky penalties).
In the end, Skrine’s most important feature might be his durability. He didn’t miss a game in his first five years in the league and has missed just five games in his last three years. That type of availability and dependability will be welcomed with open arms after the last four seasons that were spent holding out hope that Callahan could make it through a complete 16-game schedule. He couldn’t, which could be a main reason why the Bears are allowing him to walk away as a free agent.
#Bears coach Matt Nagy in October on nickel back Buster Skrine, who is now expected to be signed: "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."
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) March 11, 2019