In the 2019 off-season the Chicago Bears have already filled the few roster spots they had to, excluding specialists. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Cordarelle Patterson, Mike Davis and Buster Skrine were key replacements this off-season. (For in-depth analysis on the first three players mentioned, see earlier articles "Mike Davis-The Feature Back?, 3 Birds One Stone, and HAHA-Bears Win The Safety Battle")
The Bears decided to move on from Bryce Callahan and signed Buster Skrine to a 3 year $16.5 million dollar deal, two days before Callahan (see graph below). Denver signed Callahan to a 3 year $21 million deal, only differing $1.47 million per year. The prompt signing of Skrine, and the minimal difference in contracts, draws the conclusion that Chicago and Callahan's representatives were never going to make a deal. I'm sure the Bears would have liked to have Callahan back. It is a possibility - taking money out of the equation - that they valued Skrine more either way. After missing the first wave of signings, Callahan's value dropped, explaining the minimal difference in contract. Would the Bears and Callahan have been able to lock in a deal if they both knew how Callahan's free agency would go? We'll never know.
Looking at Buster Skrine's performance in comparison to Callahan, you have to dig. Both are tough, undersized players willing to come up and make a hit on players much larger. It's speculated that is why both have an injury-ridden past. Skrine is a little more versatile than Callahan. He started his career playing corner back in Cleveland, but throughout his career has played every position in the defensive backfield. It cant be fabricated that Callahan has outperformed Skrine thus far. When healthy, Callahan received an 81.4 grading by Pro Football Focus, although these numbers are not iron clad. Callahan played for a great defense with an even better front 7. "They're all straight up dogs upfront, and uh, I was telling everybody here this the first time that I’ve had a complete d-line. And those are superstars, they're just not regular players; not regular players, not average, not good, they're superstars. They’re great, so just to be a part of that defense and have those guys in front of you, you know the ball is coming out," said Scrine when asked about his new teammates. Although he started his career outside, he predominantly played nickel corner the last four seasons with the Jets. When the Bears faced the Jets in 2018 Nagy highlighted Skrine as a threat to his offense in the pregame press conference, calling him "one of the better nickels in the league if not the best." Fans cannot look straight to pro football focus and jump to conclusions. Pace has been known to listen to his coaching staff and find players that fit into their systems. Pagano is a more aggressive play caller than Fangio, and Skrine is a more aggressive player than Callahan. Most importantly, I reiterate how dominant the front seven is and how much that helps on the back-end. Fans should expect to see Buster Skrine's individual production increase in his new situation.
Taking another look at the figure above, you will notice that all contracts are either expired or have an out by the 2021 season. Trey Burton, Charles Leno Jr., and Taylor Gabriel are the other notable players that Chicago can cut for a minimal cap hit in 2021. Mitchell Trubisky, Eddie Jackson, and Tarik Cohen's rookie contracts all end in 2021.