The biggest storyline of the Chicago Bears’ offseason has made its way to training camp:
Ten of the first 12 questions to Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy this evening were about the search for a kicker. This has become a trend. This will be an ongoing storyline all through Bourbonnais and beyond.
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) July 21, 2019
The 2018 Bears opened a competitive window with excellent defense, timely offense, and a newfound sense of swagger. And in the offseason, GM Ryan Pace added to that group a mix of veterans and draft picks who could fill needs and provide depth … BUT THEY STILL NEED A KICKER!
Yes, Eddy Piñeiro and Elliott Fry technically start training camp as the two combatants kicking for a job, but it doesn’t sound like the Bears’ search is stopping there: “We’re watching all the teams all the competitive situations around the league,” Pace said, via the Bears’ official website. “We’re just watching that progress as we go forward. We know right now where we stand, where some of those battles are occurring. We’re watching those, and I’m sure there will be ones that will pop up that might surprising.”
In addition to the Bears, there are eight teams bringing two kickers to camp, and we can figure the Bears will be keeping an eye each of their situations:
- Packers (Mason Crosby, Sam Ficken)
- Bills (Stephen Hauschka, Chase McLaughlin)
- Bengals (Tristan Vizcaino, Randy Bullock)
- Browns (Austin Seibert, Greg Joseph)
- Broncos (Taylor Bertolet, Brandon McManus)
- Buccaneers (Matt Gay, Cairo Santos)
- Steelers (Chris Boswell, Matthew Wright)
- 49ers (Robbie Gould, Jon Brown) are teams with two kickers.
Some teams are more stable than others, but sometimes a good kicker can be found walking the waiver wire at the end of the preseason. If that happens, the Bears need to be ready to pounce, because it’s quite possible that their next kicker is on another team’s roster right now. But if that scenario plays out, that means the Bears’ kicker won’t be available until cutdown weekend after the final preseason game at the end of August. It gives me a nervous tick just thinking about that wait.
Sorting through the waiver wire is one thing, but Pace was asked about the chances of the Bears swinging a trade for a kicker. His response: “Everything’s on the table to make sure that we get that right.”
Even with everything on the table, Pace still has a clear preference for what he wants at the position:
Pace: “Ideal for our franchise is we hit on a young kicker long-term and we march forward that way.”
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) July 21, 2019
Neither of the kickers in Bears camp should feel as if they have any job security because both are on even ground as camp gets started. Not having a leader in the clubhouse at this point of the summer was expected, but it doesn’t make it any less troubling. That no one has stepped up, separated themselves from the pack, or impressed the staff to this stage of the game puts butterflies in my stomach — and not the good kind. There’s something that doesn’t feel right about being nervous when thinking about the kicking game in July.