Bears

Bears grades and needs: Will an open competition lead to a kicking fix?

Bears grades and needs: Will an open competition lead to a kicking fix?

2018 depth chart

Placekicker

1. Cody Parkey
Usage: 16 games
2019 status: $4,062,500 cap hit

The Bears will release Parkey when the new league year begins March 13, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Parkey’s future with the Bears likely was sealed when he double-doinked what would’ve been a game-winning 43-yard field goal against the Eagles on wild card weekend, but he pounded an additional nail into the coffin of his Bears career when he went on “TODAY” five days later. The Bears didn’t know Parkey was going on the show, and the appearance clearly irked coach Matt Nagy, who characterized it as not “much of a we thing.”

Parkey will still carry a cap hit of $4,062,500 after he’s released, with $5,187,500 in dead money tied to him. His contract wasn’t structured for the Bears to get out from it after one year, but they were left no choice after the double-doing and TV appearance. 

2. Redford Jones
Usage: Was not on an NFL team in 2018
2019 status: Reserve/future contract

The Bears signed Jones after working out a number of kickers at Halas Hall in late January, taking the first step in building a kicking competition that’ll play out through OTAs and training camp. Jones wasn’t in the NFL in 2018 but made 74.6 percent of his kicks (50/67) in three collegiate seasons at Tulsa. 

Expect the Bears to be active in the free agent kicking market, as well as the draft — the Bears could use one of their five draft picks on a kicker (they do have two in the seventh round) or could bring in someone as an undrafted free agent. Either way: With Robbie Gould likely to have the franchise tag placed on him by the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears seem destined for a wide-open kicking competition in the coming months. 

Punter

1. Pat O’Donnell
Usage: 16 games
2019 status: Unrestricted free agent

What the Bears do with O’Donnell will be interesting — they brought him back last year, but only on a one-year, $1.5 million deal with just $500,000 guaranteed, per Spotrac. He won a punting competition to keep his job during training camp and had a solid enough season, though his shank of a punt against the Eagles set up Philadelphia’s game-winning drive. With cap space scarce, this could be a position where the Bears go cheap with a couple undrafted free agents. 

Long snapper

1. Patrick Scales
Usage: 16 games
2019 status: Restricted free agent

Scales has done a fine job as the Bears’ long snapper and quickly fended off a challenge from a undrafted free agent Tanner Carew during training camp. Scales earned $630,000 last year and could be back on a similarly inexpensive deal. 

Level of need (1-11, with 11 being the highest): 11

The Bears absolutely have to get the kicker position right, something Ryan Pace hasn’t been able to do since releasing Gould prior to the 2016 season (that move, to be fair, wasn’t entirely unwarranted, as Gould’s reliability had waned before it). Expect a wide net to be cast between free agents and draft picks/UDFAs, and Pace will likely be active on the waiver wire in the summer to keep as many options on the table as possible. 

President Trump believes NFL season should start on time

President Trump believes NFL season should start on time

The sports world is one of many industries forced to a halt by the coronavirus outbreak. As uncertainty continues to loom over professional American sports leagues, the commissioners of a number of leagues had a conference call with President Trump on Saturday.

It’s worth noting the NCAA was not included on this call. All leagues represented were fully professional.

Since the call concluded some info has come out about what was discussed. Trump appears optimistic about sports in the later summer and early fall.


Obviously, there are many currently unknown variables that go into that scenario becoming a possibility.

Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski have more info on what was discussed on the call. According to their reporting, NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about the desire to restart once public health officials allow it:

Silver told those on the call the leagues were the first to shut down and that he and the NBA would love to lead the way in starting the economy once there was an "all clear" from public health officials, sources familiar with the call told ESPN.

The NBA and MLB are considering alternate plans for how to resume their seasons, although there is pessimism within the NBA about resuming this season. The NFL has more lead time before its season would begin. The first game of the NFL preseason is set for Aug. 6 and the regular season is currently scheduled to start in September.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Bears' QB competition confirmed by Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Bears' QB competition confirmed by Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace

It's a Friday edition of SportsTalk Live. Host David Kaplan is joined by David Haugh, Patrick Finley, and KC Johnson.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy confirm that there will be an open competition for starting quarterback between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky. The guys wonder how open it will actually be. Meanwhile, Nagy says he can sense Trubisky is a fierce competitor. The panel wonders if competition will elevate his play and make him better.

The Bulls have officially begun their search for the new executive to lead their basketball operations. Bulls Insider KC goes through the potential candidates. Haugh and Finley wonder how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect their search and ability to land a big name. And what about Jim Boylen's future? KC says it will ultimately be up to the new person in charge but reminds everyone how much Boylen is liked by the current front office.

Later, former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt joins Kap on the show from Florida. Wanny dissects the Bears quarterback competition and explains why the pressure will always be high on Mitch no matter what. They also talk about new tight end Jimmy Graham's impact on the offense and pass rusher Robert Quinn's impact on the defense. And what's Wanny up to during quarantine? He tells Kap the shows he's binge-watching and gives his review of "Tiger King". 

0:00- There will be an open competition for the Bears starting quarterback job. Does either QB have an advantage? Will competition make Mitch a better quarterback? Also, how much better does Robert Quinn make the defense?

8:00- The Bulls have begun their search for the new head of their basketball operations. KC goes through some of the candidates. Plus, the panel discusses what this means for Jim Boylen's future, John Paxson's role in the search and his future role in the organization.

16:00- Dave Wannstedt joins Kap on the show. He talks about Mitch's chances to win the QB competition and his chances to keep the job throughout next season. Plus, they talk about Jimmy Graham's role in the offense, Robert Quinn's impact on the defense and Wanny gives his honest review of "Tiger King".

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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