Emma: Who Will Be The Bears' Kicker?

Beyond Eddy Pineiro, there are several candidates in play for the Bears.

Chris Emma
August 19, 2019 - 12:45 pm
Categories: 

(670 The Score) The heat of a summer morning in Bourbonnais beat down on the middle practice field at Olivet Nazarene as Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro acknowledged the reality of his NFL future.

Listen to your team news NOW.

"We’re competing against everybody," Pineiro said.

As the Bears' kicking competition continued, Pineiro wasn't just speaking about teammate Elliott Fry but also the every other kicker around the NFL. Just a week later, the Bears on Sunday released Fry and made Pineiro their kicker -- for the time being, at least.

General manager Ryan Pace has maintained the Bears would be active in evaluating other kicking battles. They already attempted to acquire an outside kicker in making an offer to the Ravens for Kaare Vedvik, as Pro Football Weekly reported last week, but the Vikings made a stronger offer and won out.

Related: Emma: Observations from Bears-Giants

The Bears have brought in kicker after kicker this offseason after Cody Parkey's infamous double-doink miss eliminated them from the playoffs. Fry advanced to training camp after lasting through the eight-man rookie minicamp tryout, while Pineiro was acquired from the Raiders on May 7 in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick.

It seemed all along that Pineiro had an edge in the competition given that his powerful leg differentiated him from Fry. But who will be the Bears' kicker when they host the Packers in their regular-season opener on Sept. 5?

That's still up in the air.

Eddy Pineiro, 23, Bears

Key statistic: 84.1 field-goal percentage in preseason practice

How he got here: After hitting 38 of 43 field-goal attempts at Florida, Pineiro went undrafted in 2018 before landing on the Raiders' roster. A groin injury in the preseason forced him to spend the 2018 campaign on injured reserve. He was acquired by the Bears  for a conditional seventh-round pick on May 7. Since arriving in Chicago, Pineiro has outlasted Fry and Chris Blewitt in the ongoing competition.

What gives him an edge: The Bears thought of highly enough of Pineiro to trade for him. The team also hired his former kicking coach, Jamie Kohl, to a consultant role. Pineiro has a powerful leg that could play well in the adverse conditions of Soldier Field and around the league.

Joey Slye, 23, Panthers

Key statistic: 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts at Soldier Field on Aug. 8

How he got here: A week into training camp, the Panthers signed the rookie Slye to join a competition with 10-year veteran kicker Graham Gano. While Carolina has indicated all along that it's Gano's job to lose, he's recovering from a knee injury that could jeopardize his future. Slye has gotten the Panthers' preseason kicks thus far, going 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts, including three makes in a preseason opener against the Bears on Aug. 8. That performance included drilling a 55-yarder.

What gives him an edge: So long as Gano is healthy in two weeks, it's likely Slye is available on waivers. If the Bears pursue Slye, they could land a kicker whom they have already seen handle the difficulty of Soldier Field, albeit in a really small sample size. Like Pineiro, he owns a powerful leg.

Austin Seibert, 22, Browns

Key statistic: 499 career college points. making him the all-time leading scorer in FBS history

How he got here: Drafted by the Browns in the fifth round (170th overall) this past spring, Seibert joined a compelling kicking battle against incumbent Greg Joseph. However, the Browns are now considering adding more competition with neither Seibert or Joseph standing out.

What gives him an edge: The Bears met with Seibert as part of their pre-draft process, so they have enough information at their disposal to make a decision should he become available on waivers.

Greg Joseph, 26, Browns

Key statistic: 85.0 field-goal percentage in 2018

How he got here: Joseph found himself in the competition against Seibert despite having a solid rookie campaign in Cleveland. He a competition with the Dolphins last preseason before arriving to the Browns last Sept. 17, after which he converted 17 of his 20 field-goal attempts. He had some trouble on extra points, converting 25 of 29 attempts.

What gives him an edge: Joseph showed he could handle change and pressure well last season. His first game with the Browns was the team's first win since 2016, and he went 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts in that victory.

Dan Bailey, 31, Vikings

Key statistic: 86.6 field-goal percentage over eight NFL seasons

How he got here: Signed by the Vikings last September, Bailey now finds his place in Minnesota in jeopardy after the recent acquisition of Vedvik. Bailey was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and hit 88.2 percent of his field-goal attempts over seven years with the Cowboys. However, he's just 36-of-48 on field-goal attempts (75 percent) over the last two years.

What gives him an edge: Bailey is likely to become an unrestricted free agent when rosters are cut down from the 90-man limit to 53 on Aug. 31. If the Bears choose to punt on finding a long-term option at kicker, they could add Bailey on a one-year deal and hope his veteran experience proves reliable during a year of expected contention in Chicago.

Chris Boswell, 28, Steelers

Key statistic: 85.2 field-goal percentage over four NFL seasons

How he got here: Boswell was rock solid during his first three years in Pittsburgh before converting only 13 of 20 field-goal attempts while battling a groin injury last season. He now finds himself in a competition with undrafted rookie Matthew Wright, a Central Florida product.

What gives him an edge: Boswell has the kind of proven NFL experience that should attract the Bears, yet he's still young at 28. While the Steelers seem unlikely to release Boswell, whom they signed to a four-year extension this offseason, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that "we haven’t done anything yet" in deciding the kicker position.

Mason Crosby, 34, Packers 

Key statistic: 80.3 percent on field-goal attempts in the last two seasons

How he got here: Crosby has seen a dip in his production in the last two seasons, which led the Packers to bring in competition in second-year pro Sam Ficken. It still seems to be Crosby's job to lose, but after spending major money this offseason, the Packers may be motivated to cut costs at the kicking position.

What gives him an edge: Crosby has a proven track record and plenty of experience kicking in adverse weather coditions in the fall and winter.

Other contenders: Chase McLaughlin, Bills; Tristan Vizcaino, Bengals; Cole Hedlund, Colts; Matthew Wright, Steelers; Sam Ficken, Packers; Cairo Santos, Buccaneers

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.