The Chicago Bears’ search for Cody Parkey’s replacement has led to some outside-the-box ideas including the hiring of a kicking consultant, a competition re-creating the infamous double-doink, and drills kicking between narrower-than-usual goal-posts. So perhaps no one should be surprised by an outsider candidate who claims he had a tryout with the team during the offseason.
In an interview on the Rich Eisen Show and transcribed by Kelly Twardziak of NBC Sports Chicago, two-time Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee (who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016) said he tried out for a place-kicking gig in the offseason. And while McAfee would not directly say which team he tried out with, he dropped “the third largest city in America who had a little bit of a kicking situation” as a hint. So even though I did not major in geography, I reckon McAfee is saying he had a tryout with the Bears.
To let McAfee told the story, Bears kicking consultant Jamie Kohl (who coached McAfee at some point earlier in his career) reached out to McAfee to gauge his interest and if he had thought about being a place-kicker.Unfortunately, a return to the NFL was not in the cards after a health issue popped up to put it to an end before it could get started.
“When I was on a plane back home, my knee that I got surgery on last year just ballooned up out of nowhere,” McAfee explained. “It was like Antonio Brown could’ve hopped on the bottom of my knee and flew it into Napa Valley. It just blew up!”
McAfee booted 575 punts in 127 career games between 2009 and 2016, and had no field-goal kicking experience in the pros, but that did not stop Chicago from apparently kicking the tires on this alternative option. After all, the Bears sorted through top draft prospects, trade options, legs of the AAF, kicking camp champions, and various other options in the offseason. All things considered, trying out a former All-Pro punter is not the worst idea. Remember, Bears GM Ryan Pace has made good on his commitment to exploring all avenues in his quest to finding Chicago’s next kicker.
But an ex-punter … really? That seems like a bit much.