Buster Skrine of the New York Jets was signed to a four-year, $25 million contract with $13 million fully guaranteed on the first day of free agency. With that much guaranteed, the Jets should be expecting production from the former Cleveland Brown.
Cleveland fans and experts had mixed feelings about Skrine. He showed promise in the secondary as a starting cornerback, playing primarily outside but also took snaps in the slot and at safety, exhibiting some versatility. Skrine posted four interceptions last season and helped hold Ben Roethlisberger to his lowest rating (64.4) of the 2014 season in Week 6.
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Training camp with the Jets will be a test for Skrine who carries a few concerns with him. He is penalty prone with 15 flags last season. Quarterbacks threw for an 86.9 rating into his coverage and allowed eight touchdown receptions.
Some even here at The Jet Press believe Skrine was one of the worst free agent acquisitions this year. He’ll also have to learn new defensive-minded head coach Todd Bowles‘ man-heavy schemes.
Even with questions surrounding Skrine, in an article written by Matthew Florjancic of WKYC.com, here is what his former coaches had to say about him before he left Cleveland for New York:
"“Buster is one of those guys that would come out of the gate first in just how he’s prepared himself and how coachable he is,” Pettine said. “He’s had some rough moments during the season — it hasn’t all been great — but his resiliency has been impressive, how he’s been able to bounce back. Especially when Joe (Haden) went down and having to step up the last two weeks, actually, to step up and put him on a top receiver, he’s responded and handled it well.”"
Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. (89) cannot make the catch as Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) is called for pass interference in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Skrine is no stranger to training camp expectations. Before the 2014 season, young cornerback and first-round pick Justin Gilbert entered training camp in direct competition with Skrine for the starting job. Skrine won’t be competing for the starting job with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in front of him, but he will have to prove himself as a reliable #3 corner and slot defender.
Plenty of other defensive backs will be vying for playing time including Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Marcus Williams and Darrin Walls. Regardless of the competition and expectations, Skrine loves his defensive counterparts.
With a significant amount of money tied to Skrine, we can expect him to be the No. 3 cornerback heading into Week 1 against his former team at MetLife Stadium. The road there, however, won’t be that easy.