Bears Embrace Search For Kicking Solution

"We're going to get this right," Matt Nagy says of the Bears' competition.

Chris Emma
April 28, 2019 - 11:17 am
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Bears coach Matt Nagy was at Augusta National Golf Club earlier in April to see one of the all-time great stories of redemption sports has ever told. 

Nagy watched as Tiger Woods defied all odds and even his own body and won the Masters, his first major championship victory since 2008 and a capper to his remarkable comeback. It stuck with Nagy as he thought about his Bears, how their season ended and what could be ahead.

The Woods win in Augusta -- like Virginia's national championship a year after losing to a 16-seed -- reminded Nagy of how sweet redemption can be. It offered closure as the Bears move past the season-ending missed field goal by Cody Parkey in the wild-card round in January and strive for a Super Bowl championship.

"This right here is half full," Nagy said as he held up a water bottle. "Not half empty. That's where we’re at right now. All this kicking stuff and the field goals and everything like that, we’re open. 

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"We can use the, ‘Hey, the Cody Parkey miss.’ It's OK. It doesn’t hurt me. It’s fine, it’s good ... Use it. talk about it. It’s a healthy thing. So we feel good about it and we’re going to get this thing right."

The position of kicker remains "the elephant in the room" for Nagy and the Bears as they work through their offseason program and toward a new season. The team has eight Pro Bowl players, including a 24-year-old quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky with great promise, and every reason for optimism ahead -- but still no solution at kicker.

Come next weekend, the Bears are set to have six kickers at their rookie minicamp. The team has signed Redford Jones, Chris Blewitt, Elliott Fry and John Baron and also invited Casey Bednarski and Emmit Carpenter for the competition.

Even Nagy was willing to admit it's all unorthodox.

"We know the importance of it, and that’s why we’re attacking it in such an aggressive manner," Nagy said.

Added general manager Ryan Pace: "I'd say thorough is the word I want to use."

The release of Parkey became an inevitability after he missed a 43-yard field goal off the left upright and bottom crossbar with 10 seconds remaining in the Bears' 16-15 loss to the Eagles in early January. A make would've sent Chicago to Los Angeles and the divisional round, but the miss ended the Bears' great turnaround season so suddenly.

Parkey was 23-of-30 in field goals during the first season of a four-year deal he signed with the Bears, but the story was those costly misses. None was worse than the infamous "double-doink" this past January at Soldier Field.

The Bears have struggled to find a kicker since releasing Robbie Gould, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, in September 2016. But the team wasn't winning enough then for it all to matter. The miss by Parkey made it all a nightmare, haunting Chicago still to this day.

It remains possible the Bears could acquire Gould by trade as he remains absent from the 49ers in an apparent dispute over his franchise tag tender. However, San Francisco's brass has expressed its desire not to trade Gould away.

Pulling off a trade for Gould is only part of the complication. The Bears would also have to work out a desirable deal -- and certainly a discounted one -- against a tight cap crunch in the coming years. Pace wasn't comfortable with any options in the draft, passing on selecting a kicker with his five slots.

So here the Bears are searching for the best solution for their reality, giving a chance to six kickers who have never played in an NFL game. They will kick on the back fields at Halas Hall, inside the Walter Payton Center and likely at Soldier Field at some point. Nagy may even be open for the local news helicopters flying over head.

The Bears no longer loathe this ordeal, one that has consumed too much of their offseason. They're embracing the chance to get this all right.

If redemption is waiting for the Bears, they advance in the playoffs next January with a game-winning field goal.

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