For me and Bears fans worldwide, it will be hard to ever forget Cody Parkey’s infamous “doinks” through his one-season tenure with the Chicago Bears, particularly the “double-doink” in the playoffs, which cost the Bears the game. On March 14th, 2019, the start of a new league year, the Bears officially parted ways with Parkey, though the transaction was a foregone conclusion ever since the night of January 6th. With that, free agency has come and gone, and the Bears never got the chance to reunite with their all-time leading scorer Robbie Gould, and they elected not to spend money on a veteran kicker (again). So who have they signed since? Could any of these be a potential answer? Let’s find out.
Redford Jones, Tulsa, One Year Contract (Future/Reserve)
In late January, the Bears hosted several kickers for a tryout in the harsh Chicago winter, and Jones “killed” the workout according to general manager Ryan Pace. And he must’ve been good, too, given the conditions that he was in, and that he hadn’t kicked in an actual football game since 2017 when he was at Tulsa. In three seasons with Tulsa, Jones put 50 of his 67 attempted field goals through the uprights (74.6%), with a long of 51 yards. He also made 169 of 172 extra points (98.3%).
When I look at his collegiate stats, nothing jumps out at me. But we do have to remember that most of the great kickers in the NFL come out of nowhere. For instance, Gould had a career field goal % of just 63.9% in college, and some guys like Roberto Aguayo, who were awesome in college, have completely flopped at the NFL level.
Chris Blewitt, Pitt, One Year Contract
In early March, the Bears hosted another group tryout, and Blewitt impressed enough to earn a one year deal. At Pitt, Blewitt converted 55 of 79 field goal attempts (69.6%), including 4 of 8 from 50+ yards, and a long of 56 yards. Blewitt has also shown that he can make field goals in big moments: he made go-ahead 43 yard field goal with six seconds remaining in 2016 against Clemson to seal a 43-42 win. That game resulted in Clemson’s only loss of the season. Keep in mind, Parkey’s double doink was also from 43 yards.
One thing that Blewitt brings to the Bears is a big leg. He can make field goals from beyond 50 yards, something that Parkey struggled to do. Blewitt also has made big kicks in big moments, something else that Parkey has struggled with. Blewitt, unlike Jones, has NFL experience in rookie minicamp tryouts with the Steelers in 2017, but has never kicked in an NFL game.
Elliot Fry, Orlando Apollos, Three Year Contract
In college at South Carolina from 2013-2016, Fry made 66 of 88 field goal attempts (75%), including a 55 yarder with 35 seconds left in 2016 vs. Vanderbilt to give the Gamecocks the lead. Elliot Fry, who played for his collegiate coach, Steve Spurrier, with the Orlando Apollos, made 14 of 14 goal attempts in the 2018 AAF season, including a 42 and a 43 yarder in the Salt Lake City snow. His AAF career long was 47 yards.
Fry, unlike the previous two kickers, has game experience at a professional level. Fry, like Blewitt, does not have game experience in the NFL, but did try out for the Buccaneers in 2017. Chicago has nasty weather, especially in the winter, and Fry’s ability to make field goals from 40+ yards out in the wind and snow will make him a good fit for the Bears. And, like Blewitt, he has made big-time kicks in college (that game-winning 55 yarder mentioned earlier).
Who Has the Best Chance?
I’m sure the Bears aren’t done adding yet. It wouldn’t shock me if they added one or two more through the draft, whether that be a late round pick or an undrafted free agent. They seem to be high on Utah’s Matt Gay, and have also spoken with LSU’s Cole Tracy. Most likely, the Bears’ plan is to take these three and one or two other guys into training camp, narrow it down for the preseason, and let the best man win the starting job. Since we don’t know who the Bears will add between now and the regular season, I can only talk about the three they have now. I think the most likely of these three to win the job is Elliot Fry. They signed Fry to a three year deal, while the other two were only one year contracts, so they must really like Fry. Also, he’s shown that he can kick in nasty weather, make long field goals in crunch time, and he has professional game experience. The next most likely I see is Chris Blewitt. The guy has a big leg, and has shown he can make big field goals in big moments. I don’t know much about Redford Jones, but the Bears have seen this guy kick, I haven’t. Through the draft, I most likely see them getting Matt Gay somehow, but no one knows how that will play out yet. This is all going to depend on who kicks the best in training camp in preseason, so it’s all speculation until then.