Bears continue to round out defense, sign veteran OLB Dan Skuta
At a time typically devoted to first-year players — the Bears’ rookie minicamp starts Friday — the team added its second veteran defender in five days.
In signing outside linebacker Dan Skuta to a one-year deal Monday, the Bears reunited the eight-year veteran with the defensive coordinator who helped shape his career. Skuta played well enough for Vic Fangio in San Francisco in 2013-14 to earn a five-year, $20.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he spent the last two seasons. Skuta, who met with the New England Patriots last month, started eight games in 2015 and two last year.
He figures to be a depth piece; if he makes the team, it will likely be as a backup to Leonard Floyd and either Willie Young or Pernell McPhee. Floyd suffered two concussions last year. McPhee, valued as a team leader, played in nine games before missing the season finale with an injured left shoulder that required offseason surgery. He was vague last month when asked how much he’d be able to participate in the offseason program.
Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked the 6-2, 251-pound Skuta 29th among all 3-4 outside linebackers with a 7.2 run-stop percentage; his percentage was even higher in 2015.
Having turned 31 last month, Skuta is the Bears’ fourth-oldest player. The undrafted free agent from Grand Valley State spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has started 32 career games and appeared in 80 more. He has seven career sacks and six forced fumbles.
Skuta and defensive end Jaye Howard — who signed with the Bears on Thursday — round out a unit that was only addressed once in the draft, with safety Eddie Jackson in the fourth round. The Bears chose four offensive players.
Unlike Skuta, Howard could emerge as a starter. In his last three seasons in Kansas City, he started 29 times in 40 games.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.