The Chicago Bears kicking mechanism will have a new look in 2022.
Punter Patrick O’Donnell, who had been the longest-tenured member of the Bears going into the offseason, will soon be a member of the Packers:
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 17, 2022
And with that, the Bears have no one left from the Phil Emery era.
All right, so who is down for some Pat O’Donnell revenge games? Raise your hands. Don’t be shy.
O’Donnell, 30, was averaging 46.2 yards per punt last year. That wasn’t bad. In fact, it represents a second consecutive year with an improving average. Plus, it was best showing showing since averaging a career-best 47 yards per punt in 2017. But (because there is always a but…) the 38.6 net average is his worst showing since 2017 (39.7) and marks the second consecutive season in which his net number has taken a dip. Maybe the Packers have a fix for that. Or maybe they see O’Donnell’s perfect 158.3 passer rating and see him as a dual threat punter/QB2 behind Aaron Rodgers. In either case, O’Donnell is leaving Chicago and crossing into the land of cheese.
Assuming that the Packers are installing O’Donnell as their punter without any offseason or training camp competition, it means he will be in line for two of them starting this season. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero doesn’t have contract details just yet, but that doesn’t make this move any less significant. The Packers now have the special teams coach many were pegging as a top Bears option and the team’s former punter. Chalk up another footnote in the Bears-Packers rivalry.
For what it is worth, the Bears don’t have an empty cupboard at the position. So, don’t fret too much. Earlier in the offseason, the team brought in Ryan Winslow as a free agent. You might recall Winslow was O’Donnell’s camp competition in 2018. Since then, Winslow has been bouncing around the league. He has made stops in Arizona, Green Bay, Carolina, Washington, and San Francisco. That last tea is an important one to note. Considering how the Bears brought in Richard Hightower from the 49ers, perhaps there is something Chicago’s new special teams coach likes. I guess we’ll find out.