Filling in offensive weapon gaps for Mitchell Trubisky naturally meant that Bears general manager Ryan Pace had to find a suitable kicking upgrade. A kicker that could match a hopeful high-flying offense. A kicker with a big leg and high upside.
Parkey, 26, has had a winding road to get to this point with the Bears. In 2014, he broke the NFL’s rookie scoring record for a playoff Philadelphia Eagles team while making 32 of 36 field goals, including a stellar four of four on 50-yard attempts. His 150 points that season ironically broke former Bears’ kicker Kevin Butler’s record in 1985 that had stood for 29 seasons. It appeared Parkey had a bright future with the Eagles until a groin injury suffered early in 2015 eventually led to the end of his tenure in Philadelphia.
The Browns, and new Bears’ special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, then took a chance on a healthy Parkey to help him get back on his feet in 2016. It took him some time to get his confidence back though, as he went just 20 of 25 on field goal attempts. That doesn’t mean he didn’t appreciate what Tabor and the Browns did for him.
“For me it’s like every day’s a new day to get better, so I just go out and approach it like that every day and every day I’m here is a blessing,” said Parkey early on in his Browns’ tenure. “I think I’m here for a reason.”
What Parkey didn’t know was that reason would be to revitalize his NFL career. After Cleveland moved on, the Dolphins closed in and the Parkey of old began to shine through.
Last season in Miami, Parkey went 21 of 23 on field goals. The sign of a kicker who had retained his confidence and had his legs back under him (no pun intended). A mediocre Dolphins’ offense didn’t ask him to garner many attempts from distance or in the clutch. A fact that ideally will change now in Chicago, or at least when the Bears necessitate his work under pressure. From that perspective, a reunion with the coach that gave him another chance in Tabor could work wonders. It paints part of the picture of why the Bears moved in on Parkey: because of familiarity.
This acquisition of a solid kicker immediately is an underrated move that some will overlook but that signifies a greater plan in place: the Bears plan to be competitive, and be competitive next year. Gone are the recent days of the unreliable kicker sinking the offense and team as a whole in the post-Robbie Gould era. Chicago wants a fast-paced offense that scores points and often, even when they don’t reach the end zone. Parkey’s role in this hopeful success is wholeheartedly understated.
The Bears’ obvious moves to step into contention, like Parkey, are out in the forefront for all to see in this beyond aggressive free agency period.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.