Bears GM Ryan Pace knows what traits he wants in Cody Parkey’s replacement

SHARE Bears GM Ryan Pace knows what traits he wants in Cody Parkey’s replacement

Bears kicker Cody Parkey reacts after kicking a field goal against the New York Giants. | Seth Wenig/AP photo

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears’ place-kicking tryouts were held indoors last month. There were no screaming fans or charging rushers, no wind, rain or snow.

‘‘I like to send [player-personnel director] Josh Lucas off the edge and try to block the kick in the workout,’’ general manager Ryan Pace joked Wednesday.

That’s an important element to keep in mind as the Bears begin their search for Cody Parkey’s replacement. Unlike almost every position in the league, pedigree matters little with kickers. There’s no way to know how they’ll react to pressure until they’re out there.

It takes a bit of voodoo, then, to find a long-term solution. The Bears have all hands on deck — ‘‘a whole team of scouts,’’ Pace said — including former Southern University kicker Breck Ackley.

They won’t be close-minded in their search, either. Pace said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he has no problem using a draft pick on a kicker — or a punter — if he’s the right fit. The Bears also are open to signing a veteran free agent to compete with rookie Redford Jones, whom they found at that tryout Jan. 25 at Halas Hall.

Or maybe they’d sign a veteran in March, then draft a college player. Pace said he would be fine with a three-man competition.

‘‘Explore every avenue,’’ he  said.

Pace knows what physical traits he wants in the Bears’ next kicker.

‘‘I think leg strength is important, especially in Chicago,’’ he said. ‘‘You’ve got to knife through the wind. That’s something that I would say is a high priority for us. . . .

‘‘I think one thing we always have to consider is the conditions we’re playing in, with our wind elements. There’s a lot of things that go into it, no different than any other position. Some of it’s mental, some of it’s physical.’’


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The Bears can learn about both at the combine, even if it features only three college kickers. Mental toughness is particularly important at the position, Pace said.

‘‘Confidence is important and what kind of adversity have they had in life and [whether] they have been able to overcome it on and off the field,’’ he said. ‘‘We can feel a lot of those things [at the combine].’’

The Bears thought they had that in Parkey when they gave him a four-year, $15 million deal with $9 million guaranteed last year, but he missed eight field goals and three extra points in his lone season with them. He hit the uprights six times, including on the potential playoff game-winner against the Eagles.

The Bears will cut Parkey when the league year begins March 13. They’ll give him a post-June 1 designation, which will move more than $1 million of his cap hit to 2020.

‘‘It’s really performance-based,’’ Pace said. ‘‘He’s such a pro. He’s such a good guy. I think it was just really honest back-and-forth, really transparent back-and-forth. We wanted to do it before the combine, and it was good. I think he understood.’’

Coach Matt Nagy said Parkey’s job was no different than his own.

‘‘With a kicker, you either make it or you don’t,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It’s clear-cut. So it’s production. It’s the same thing with coaches: You either win or you lose. If you lose, you’re out. Cody understands that. And I think the discussions we had, it was a mutual understanding, and I respect that from him.

‘‘Now, as far as what we’re looking for — and this is the big challenge now — is to find that guy who can come in here and make those kicks. It’s not easy. There’s no exact science to it, but we’re going to do everything we can to exhaust every avenue possible, whatever that means. I don’t know if I have that answer yet, but I promise you this: We’re going to give it all we’ve got.’’

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