Starting this weekend, a Halas Hall Kicker Death Match!
It probably won’t get that serious, but when asked about having so many kickers signed, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said via the Chicago Tribune, “Let’s increase the competition and let the whole thing battle out.”
I’m all for a good battle, although I’ve yet to see the Game of Thrones latest, so please, no spoilers in the comment section.
The Bears currently have three kickers under contract according to their website, Chris Blewitt, Elliott Fry, and Redford Jones. They have another, John Baron II, that was reported to have signed as an undrafted free agent, and three others that will be at Halas Hall this weekend to try out at rookie mini-camp, Casey Bendarski, Emmit Carpenter, Spencer Evans. and Justin Yoon.
That’s eight kickers!
And while we’re here, we may as well mention Alex Kjellsten, who is a punter by trade, but also a kickoff specialist that began his college career as a placekicker.
That’s a lot of kickers to work through, but head coach Matt Nagy has an idea of how he’ll handle the process. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I already have a plan and I’ll let you know when it comes out. These guys have to compete. Get them out there and let them compete.”
If not a death-match, then how about a WWE style eight-man elimination tag or Money in the Bank ladder match?
Competition seems to be the name of the game, but how cut-throat will it get? Nagy hinted (joked?) that they may test these guys in an unorthodox fashion, but there’s no way the competition is going to take away from getting his offense and defense prepared. They’ll likely have some fun with it, but it won’t be a distraction.
The kicker position has been a sore spot for the Bears since releasing Robbie Gould before the 2016 season, but with the Bears in a championship window, they need to find the right guy for 2019. That guy may not even be one of the eight rookie kickers I previously mentioned, because the Bears are keeping their options open. “We wouldn’t rule it out, as far as bringing in a veteran kicker,” Pace said via the Tribune. “We just want to create the best competition. So however that unfolds, it unfolds.”
The first step will be whittling eight down to a manageable number for the offseason, then once they have a group they feel good with they’ll go from there. Handicapping the kickers’ chances at this point would be a kick in the dark, although I do think Kjellsten could make it to the 90-man roster since he punts and could act as another holder for the ongoing “kick offs.”
You can find video of all these guys kicking on YouTube or on social media, but until the Bears begin ramping up the pressure of the final battle, there’s no way to know how they’ll react.
“It’s not going to be an easy competition,” Nagy said. “It’s about making your kicks under pressure. And it’s as simple as that. Either you make it or you don’t. We’re going to test them out.”
“Either you make it or you don’t” has an ominous feel to it. Perhaps a death-math is on the table?