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.