The Bears decided to pay Buster Skrine and not Bryce Callahan. Here’s a big reason why.
I don’t think there are too many NFL analysts around that if you asked them if you’d rather have a healthy Buster Skrine or a healthy Bryce Callahan playing slot corner for your team, that they would say Skrine.
Bryce Callahan is a superior talent to that of Skrine. Callahan helped make the Chicago Bears’ 2018 defense the best in the league, and while the defense still played well once Callahan was out and Sherrick McManis filled in for him, it certainly didn’t go unnoticed that Golden Tate’s game winning touchdown catch in the playoffs came on McManis’ coverage.
Would it have been different if Callahan was on the field? A question that’s impossible to answer but easy to speculate.
The Bears signed Skrine to a 3-year contract with an AAV of $5.5 million a year. Plenty of Chicago area writers said the Bears’ wanted to keep Callahan, but he eventually signed a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Denver Broncos.
The Bears guaranteed $8.5 million to Skrine, meanwhile the Broncos guaranteed $10 million to Callahan.
It’s hard to imagine why the Bears would go with Skrine while only saving $1.5 million in guaranteed money and an AAV that’s only $1.5 million less as well.
But that’s coming more and more into focus.
It’s April. OTAs are right around the corner and Callahan still isn’t healthy.
We saw how Ryan Pace handled the Cam Meredith contract negotiations. Players that are dealing with injuries, potentially serious or nagging ones, do not get much from this particular Bears’ front office.
Callahan has dealt with injuries every season of his career. Those injuries are adding up and it’s reaching a fulcrum point with Callahan where you have to start asking if the injuries and dealing with said injuries are going to hamper his play at an increasing rate.
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The Bears clearly were not comfortable guaranteeing Callahan any money into the second year of his contract. Skrine has played at least 14 games in every season of his 8-year career. Bryce Callahan has never played more than 13.
The Bears don’t like injury prone players. Kyle Long had to take a massive pay cut just to stay on the roster and he’s one of the leaders in the locker room. Callahan’s injuries were too much and with reports now that he won’t even be ready to workout a month from now (information that obviously the Bears had), it has to make you wonder when the risk is just too high.
The Bears determined that they had reached that point with Callahan. A team without much cap space simply couldn’t guarantee that much money to an injury prone player. The players the Bears commit to they need a level of certainty that they are going to be out there for 16 (or close to 16) games a season.
Injuries are always a risk in the NFL, and Pace has proved that if your risk factor is higher than most, you won’t be getting any long-term dollars from his front office. Callahan was a victim of his own body’s deficiencies, it had nothing to do with his play on the field.