Eddy Pineiro - Signed through 2020 - Like many young kickers, the Chicago Bears didn’t ask Pineiro to kick very many long field goals. He was only 2 for 2 at 50 yards or further, and from 40-49 yards he was just 3 for 7. He only missed one field goal from 39 yards and closer, but he’ll need to get more accurate on the longer kicks if he plans to have a lengthy NFL career.
Also, it is possible that the injury affected Pineiro more than we realize. He made his final 11 field goals of the year, this after a 3 for 7 stretch from weeks seven through ten.
Patrick O’Donnell - Signed through 2020 - Chicago’s philosophy on punts usually has O’Donnell skying the football for his coverage team, or directionally punting to avoid a return, and that strategy has led to the Bears having 26 punts fair caught, 2nd most in the NFL, and a 7.06 average per return, which was 17th.
With their anemic offense sputtering for most of 2019, O’Donnell punted 80 times, which was the 3rd most, and his average per punt and net average per punt was 25th and 24th respectively. In 2020 he’s set to be the 15th highest paid punter in the NFL.
He was asked to kickoff while Pineiro was getting over his knee injury and his 66.7 touchback percentage was better than Eddy’s 50%.
Patrick Scales - Free agent - Scales has been a Bear since 2015 and I would imagine the Bears would like him to return for another season. At 32-years old, and at a position that doesn’t get big money, long snapper, Scales would probably sign for right around the league minimum.
2020 OUTLOOK - I would imagine those three Bears above will be in their same roles in 2020, but if I was running the show I’d bring in competition for each of them.
If the Bears did bring in some competition for O’Donnell and he was beat out, it would only cost them $100,000 dead cap space while freeing up $1.75 million. They could look to a street free agent, look to the UDFA market, or even the draft. If they go with the later route one guy that could be in the mix is Braden Mann from Texas A&M.
“Pat O’Donnell still has another year on his contract, but Mann is one of the best punters to hit the draft in recent years,” says our NFL Draft expert Jacob Infante. “He blends admirable touch with an absolutely booming leg and could be drafted as high as Round 5.”
The Ray Guy Award winner in 2018 as the nation’s top punter, Mann has been booming punts for two years now. He holds a career punting average of 48.9 and he has kicked off in the past as well.
What are your thoughts on Scales, O’Donnell, and Pineiro and the Bears specialist situation for 2020?