The Bears announced their signing of veteran free agent linebacker Dan Skuta to a one-year deal last Monday, adding intrigue to a likely competitive battle on the depth chart at the outside linebacker position. The financial terms of the contract have not yet been revealed.
We have signed LB Dan Skuta to a 1-year contract.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 8, 2017
By: Peter Elliott – NFL, MLB, and NCAA writer – @PelliottSports
Skuta won’t be heading to Chicago without friends, as he played under current Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Those consecutive campaigns in the Bay Area were two of the most productive of his career, as he played in a total of 30 games, starting in 18 of them in which he reeled in 61 total tackles, five sacks, and forced three fumbles, recovering one for a 47-yard trip to the end zone.
Skuta, 31, had been looking for a suitor for his talents for a while now, as he visited the New England Patriots last month, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. While Bill Belichick and the Patriots didn’t pull the trigger on signing Skuta, Bears GM Ryan Pace did. It certainly can’t hurt the team both in financial and practical senses, as it won’t strain the team’s salary cap by signing a proven veteran who likely doesn’t have a very high price tag.
Skuta played the previous two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played in 26 games, starting in 10 of them, during which he accumulated 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two deflected passes, and one forced fumble. He was released by the team just two years into his five-year deal worth $20 million.
There’s not a high chance that he’ll be given a chance to start, but he will be able to make an impact coming off the bench and as a special teams player.
Pro Football Focus notes that while Skuta has never played more than 50 percent of snaps in a season, he didn’t miss a single tackle in his 267 snaps last season.
Skuta does come to the Windy City with baggage, as he had offseason surgery for a groin injury following the 2015 season, and was arrested last year and charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery for allegedly pushing a woman’s face into a bar window. All charges were later dropped.
There is a high probability that Skuta will make the 53-man roster, but where will he rank within that roster? That is the question that’ll be answered throughout summer camps and the preseason, assuming he makes it that far.
• ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson writes that national expectations for Bears are even lower following the draft.
• Greg Gabriel of CBS Chicago takes a look at which undrafted free agents signed by the Bears have a shot at making their roster.
• Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey says that Chicago sports landscape looks different than it did five months ago, and that’s certainly due in part to the Bears’ selection of Mitchell Trubisky during this year’s Draft, and longtime quarterback Jay Cutler leaving the Bears to call games for Fox Sports.