Losing Adrian Amos was always going to hurt, but signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix appears to have already softened the blow. Pro Football Focus’ team of analysts placed the Clinton-Dix signing among the highest-graded class of signings this offseason, giving the move an “elite” grade on that particular scale.
Elsewhere at PFF, Michael Renner viewed the shrewd, albeit low-key move one that could have a big impact. And that’s not all! Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gave a tip of the cap to Chicago for inserting Clinton-Dix to fill the vacancy left behind by Amos, giving the Bears a “B-minus” grade. Hooray for mostly praise.
The Clinton-Dix signing headlines a second consecutive heralded Bears offseason, especially from PFF. Because in addition to bringing Clinton-Dix aboard, the site also shares positive grades for the Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis signings. Patterson’s arrival grades out as “very good” as PFF’s Josh Liskiewitz believes Matt Nagy’s creativity will allow the Bears to get the most out of Patterson’s skills the way the Patriots did in 2018. Davis’ deal received an “average” grade from PFF, but Cam Mellor sees the the reserve rusher as a possible pivotal piece to Chicago’s backfield trio. In fact, Mellor thinks the Bears might have signed a player who could be their top ball-carrier to what looks like a team-friendly deal.
And on the opposite end of the grading scale is the deal that brought nickel cornerback Buster Skrine to Chicago. Skrine’s deal isn’t the worst that was given out to a free agent this offseason, but grading as “below average” isn’t what anyone had in mind when the team was courting Bryce Callahan’s replacement.
PFF’s assessment: “Skrine has massive shoes to fill as Bryce Callahan was the top slot cornerback in the league last year but will not be returning to the Bears in 2019. Reliable in terms of health (he has logged over 400 coverage snaps each of the past seven seasons), he has surrendered 39 touchdowns into his coverage over the past seven years. That’s good money to a player who allows over five touchdowns a season in coverage.”
Yikes! Not only is that far from a glowing review, it makes me wonder how that guy can be the same as the one Nagy once said was “one of the better nickels in the league, if not the best.” What gives!?
Skrine took home PFF’s seventh worst coverage grade among corners, but was stellar elsewhere as he picked up the site’s 12th best pass-rush grade and 17th best grade against the run last season. Clearly, Skrine’s coverage grade leaves much to be desired. But perhaps new DC Chuck Pagano (who has long been revered as one of the best when it comes to coaching defensive backs) can raise his level of play. It’s possible that a different scheme loaded with big-play defenders makes things easier for Skrine in the slot. There is definitely room for upside and growth, even if there is notable cause for concern.
In the end, the Bears are still looking at an offseason in which they have satisfied some glaring positional needs. GM Ryan Pace entered the offseason with minimal holes to fill on a roster that won the NFC North and has received some positive reviews with how he has patched up perceived soft spots. This offseason is far from over, but the Bears are off to go a good start – even if one move appears to be less-than-flattering.