While a member of the Chicago Bears, Robbie Gould made 85.4% of his field goals. Since the Bears parted ways with him before the 2016 season, Chicago kickers have gone 76%.
It has been a parade of ineptitude that went from Connor Barth to Cody Parkey with a little Mike Nugent and Cairo Santos mixed in. The Bears went through an exhaustive kicking try out this offseason and they’ve settled on two contenders for training camp, but you can bet they’ll be watching the waiver wire looking for any better options that could pop up.
The way it stands now, Bourbonnais will have Elliott Fry battling Eddy Pineiro for the right to kick for the defending NFC North champs. Fry was last seen kicking in the AAF where he made all 14 of his field goals, and Pineiro was last a member of the Oakland Raiders where he missed all of 2018 while on injured reserve.
Neither of these guys have stood out this offseason according to the beat writers that have been allowed to cover the team, but kicking is a weird discipline. All it could take is a tweak here or there and all of the sudden they become money. Sometimes all it takes is putting in the extra work to get that muscle memory firing to become NFL worthy. This is why the percentages from NFL kickers almost always jumps up from when they were in college.
Gould only made 53.8% of his field goals as a senior at Penn State, but has gone on to a fantastic NFL career. Baltimore’s Justin Tucker has been over 90% as a pro for seven years, but as a senior at Texas he only made 81% of his FGs. Free agent Matt Bryant, whom some Bears’ fans want to see come to Chicago, was 80% at Baylor in 1998, but as a pro for the last 17 years he’s kicking at an 86.2% clip.
Either Fry or Pineiro could win the job for the Bears and go on to a splendid career, but with the team sitting in a legit Super Bowl window this is a big gamble.
General manager Ryan Pace has done a fantastic job rebuilding the Bears since the Phil Emery / Marc Trestman era, but the one glaring gaffe on his resume has been figuring out the placekicker position. You can bet his pro scouts will be all over the 31 other teams just waiting to pounce if anyone decent is cut loose.
I’m putting the kicker position at #3 on my list this year, but this could very well also be Pace as he’s tasked with getting the job done right this time.