Even after finishing the 2018 NFL season with a 12-4 record, the NFC North title, and a playoff berth for the first time since the 2010 season, the Chicago Bears still had a blemish that was hurtful to the eyes of their fans. As we all know, kicker Cody Parkey took the heat for the Bears’ heartbreaking loss in the wild card round of the postseason after missing a field goal that would have advanced Chicago to the divisional round. As a result of that miss, and not living up to his big contract, Parkey was let go by the Bears this offseason.
Since then, the Bears faithful were hoping for a reunion with fan-favorite Robbie Gould. However, the San Francisco 49ers decided to put their franchise tag on Gould, making him untouchable in free agency. Now, Chicago has brought in two potential replacements, Redford Jones and Chris Blewitt.
Both of these kickers are undrafted players with zero NFL experience. During his time at the University of Tulsa, Jones played for three years, connecting on 50 of 67 field goals (74.6 percent) and 169 of 172 extra points (98.3). Blewitt, the University of Pittsburgh’s all-time leading scorer (363) made 55 of 79 field goals (69.6) and 198 of 204 (97.1) extra points. Those field goal percentages aren’t eye-popping, and leads one to wonder if the Bears should seek the services of a veteran kicker.
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If looking for more experience is what Chicago wants to do, then they can find plenty of that in the free-agency pool. Currently, many would say that the best available kicker is Stephen Gostkowski. The longtime New England Patriot is ranked as the 77th best free agent on the Top 101 Free Agents of 2019 on NFL.com. Other kickers that are available are Kai Forbath, and someone who has already donned a Bears uniform in the not-so-far past, Mike Nugent. In 2017, Nugent spent the final four weeks of the season on Chicago’s roster, and was four-for-four on field goals (with a long of 55 yards) and connected on seven of nine extra points.
Then, there are a few kickers that are considered over the hill. Eighteen-year veteran Matt Bryant, who will turn 44 in May, is still floating around, as well as Phil Dawson, 44, and Sebastian Janikowski, 41.
Chicago did bolster their special teams unit with the addition of kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. However, bringing in a battle-tested, professional kicker to at least push the two inexperience kickers in training camp could help stabilize a phase that was inconsistent for the Bears last season.