Bears

Moon: Bears aren’t better without Cody Parkey

Moon: Bears aren’t better without Cody Parkey

An uncomfortable fact still hovering over the entire kicking situation is that the Bears are not better as a team without Cody Parkey.

Dispatching Parkey may have lowered blood pressures within the locker room and fan base. But kicker cannot be counted along with running back, wide receiver and the secondary as Bears position areas that got better over the past month. David Montgomery projects as a versatile upgrade from Jordan Howard. Riley Ridley likely makes everyone forget Kevin White (kidding, really) Josh Bellamy (more kidding).

Kicker? Not so much, for some simple and obvious reasons:

Even with his nightmarish 2018, Parkey has a better career field-goal success rate (83.9 percent) than any member of the kicker flash-mob assembled by the Bears to compete during the recent rookie minicamp, or Eddy Pineiro, acquired via trade from the Oakland Raiders for a future seventh-round draft choice.

Somebody will “win” the Bears’ offseason-long kicking competition. Somebody always does, or has to, if only out of default.

This is not breaking news: No kicker coming through Halas Hall has ever kicked in an actual NFL game that counted. Parkey had at least done that. Pineiro appeared in exactly one Raiders preseason game before landing on injured reserve with a groin injury.

If the Bears thought so highly of Pineiro, who finished his career at Florida as the most accurate kicker in that school’s history, why didn’t they deem him worth even a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft? The simple answer is that Parkey had been signed a month earlier to a four-year deal with a guaranteed $9 million – compared to the $1.5 million the 49ers guaranteed Robbie Gould for two years in his 2017 contract. But Pineiro was going to be available in the 2018 draft.

For that matter, Chris Blewitt, one of the two initial survivors of the kick-a-thon, was available in 2017 when the Bears re-signed a decidedly pedestrian Connor Barth, and when they brought in Cairo Santos for what turned out to be all of two games later that season, and even when they tried Mike Nugent after Santos went to IR. The Bears didn’t sign Blewitt, whose FG success rate was sub-70 percent at Pitt, at any of those times.

Elliott Fry? He was a 75-percent’er at South Carolina, but at last was 14-for-14 with the Orlando Apollos of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

None of which is remotely intended to question the financially prickly move to cut Parkey. The organization unquestionably had no alternative but to jettison a kicker whose PAT success rate (93.3 percent) was worse than the NFL’s 94.1 percent rate, and who missed more than one of every five of his field-goal attempts, culminating in a miss that ended the season of a team that had gone 12-4 even with his ineptitude. If the Bears under John Fox felt they had to dump Robbie Gould at the end of the 2016 preseason for missing a couple PAT’s on top of two costly in-season mis-kicks among six misses in a seven-week span, then Parkey was an obvious must-go.

But the surprise will be if the Bears go into even the preseason without a veteran kicker at least getting same look as the cadre of mediocrity that made a run at the kicking job over the past couple of weeks.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”