The Bears’ 2018 season was equal parts successful and fun, though it’s finally time to move on. But before we get right to 2019, let’s take a position-by-position look at the roster – as presently constructed – to find out what’s in store for the offseason and upcoming year.
Today: Special teams
WHO’S UNDER CONTRACT?
Cody Parkey’s time as a member of the Bears should come to an end when the new league year begins. As for other key cogs on the Bears’ special teams units who are signed up for the 2019 season are three players who tried their hand in the return game – running backs Tarik Cohen and Taquan Mizzell Sr., as well as wide receiver Anthony Miller.
EXITING FREE AGENTS
In addition to finding a kicker, the Bears could be looking at replacing three important special teams roles this offseason as punter Pat O’Donnell, kick returner Benny Cunningham, and long snapper Patrick Scales (restricted) are free agents.
WHO COULD BE CUT BEFORE THE LEAGUE NEW YEAR BEGINS?
There is a small financial consideration to be made when it comes to parting ways with Parkey. The Bears could lose $1.125 million in salary cap space in 2019 if they bite hard and swallow on the idea of applying the cap hit attached to cutting Parkey to this upcoming league year. HOWEVER, designating Parkey as a post-June 1 cut could save the team a little more by spreading the cut over multiple years. Maybe it’s better just to get it over with now.
(P.S.: In case you missed our all-encompassing guide to the Bears’ path to creating cap space, here ya go.)
HOW CAN THE BEARS ADDRESS/UPGRADE THE POSITION?
Earlier, we outlined the many roads the Bears can travel en route to upgrading the place-kicker position. But that’s just the beginning.
The Bears’ special teams unit ranked among the league’s worst, and to be clear, it wasn’t just Parkey’s fault. Chicago ranked last in kickoff yards and kickoff starting field position. The best showings came in ranking second in overall punt return yardage and checking in among the middle of the pack in net punting average. Otherwise, blergh!
Only the Cowboys, Buccaneers, Chargers, Browns, Bills, and Packers had a worse special teams grade than the Bears in 2018. And while that means the Bears weren’t necessarily the worst in the league (or even in their own division), there is a ton of work to be done here.