2018 depth chart
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.
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.
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.