The Chicago Bears’ kicking competition is unlike any we’ve seen from them before.
As it stands, the Bears have three kickers on their current roster: Redford Jones emerged as the first candidate to make a run at Cody Parkey’s gig. And since parting ways with Parkey, the team has also signed Chris Blewitt and Elliott Fry to try it out themselves.
After the draft concluded, the Bears were reportedly signing John Baron II to add to the mix. But if you thought it was going to end there, then I have some news for you.
Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports the Bears will have five kickers at their upcoming rookie mini-camp. In addition to Baron, Casey Bednarski (Minnesota State), Emmit Carpenter (Minnesota), Spencer Evans (Purdue), and Alex Kjellsten (McNeese State) are lined up to take their shot at Halas Hall. GM Ryan Pace has insisted on leaving no stone left un-turned in this process, and evaluating eight(!) kickers during this time is one way to show it. But is that everyone? Ah … not so fast.
When discussing the Bears’ 2019 NFL Draft class on 670 The Score, GM Ryan Pace was asked if it was possible that the team’s future kicker wasn’t among the names listed above. Specifically, a veteran who’s already kicked at Soldier Field or the NFL in general. Because, as it stands, none of the kickers the Bears are working out now have ever attempted a kick in the NFL’s regular season.
This was his response:
Is it possible the #Bears' kicker still isn't on the roster yet? "I want to leave all our options open, so that's a possibility," Ryan Pace says.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) April 29, 2019
And you can listen to the entire interview below:
Robbie Gould certainly comes to mind when it comes to kickers with league experience who have a mastery of Soldier Field. But until the 49ers honor his trade request or remove the Franchise tag, the Bears have to move on and keep turning over those rocks until they find what they are looking for in a kicker.
Available free agents with considerable NFL kicking experience include Matt Bryant, Phil Dawson, Kai Fortbath, and Mike Nugent (who kicked for the Bears briefly in 2017). Bryant is the most successful of the group, but has spent a bulk of his career kicking in domes and favorable conditions while playing for teams in the NFC South. But still … he’s pretty good.
So while it’s good to have options, the Bears have to work with what they have given themselves to this point of the offseason until a better one presents itself.