Bears brass didn’t appreciate kicker Cody Parkey heading to the “Today” show to explain his now-infamous double-doink kick.
Their explanation why Monday — and their vow to fix the position after Parkey missed eight field goals and three extra points in his first season with the team — was the surest sign yet that the Bears and the kicker seem headed for a divorce once the league season begins in March.
Coach Matt Nagy was careful to explain Monday that Parkey never mentioned the morning-show appearance — which was arranged through Parkey’s representatives, not the team — during his exit interview last week. And Nagy was clear he didn’t like it.
“For me, you understand that we always talk about a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ thing,” Nagy said. “And we always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team.
“I didn’t necessarily think that was too much of a ‘we’ thing.”
Was it appropriate?
“Again,” Nagy said, “I didn’t think it was a ‘we’ thing.”
General Manager Ryan Pace demurred when asked flat-out if the Bears would keep Parkey, but he strongly hinted the team would go in a new direction.
“That position is an emphasis for us,” he said. “We understand we need to get better, get more production out of that position. Matt talks about it all the time. There’s so much parity in our league, so many close games, the kicker position is critical.”
The Bears would take on a $5.2 million cap hit in 2019 if they released Parkey without a June 1 designation. With one, the hit would be $4 million next year. Either way, the Bears owe Parkey $3.5 million whether or not he kicks for them next season.
Pace said, speaking generally, he wouldn’t let guaranteed money stand in the way of a fix.
“Yeah, we talk about those things, but the most important thing is performance,” he said.
Nagy said the same in Parkey’s exit interview.
“We understand where I’m at in regards to, ‘Hey, you’re here to make those,’ ” Nagy said. “But at the same time, he didn’t want to miss it. He didn’t try, but he did.
“In the end, everyone talks. We’re all evaluated and judged on. It’s about production and results.”
Parkey hit the upright on six misses. The cruelest came on his final try, a 43-yarder with 10 seconds to play against the Eagles in the wild-card round. His kick hit the left upright and then the crossbar before landing in the end zone, sealing a 16-15 loss.
Defensive lineman Treyvon Hester tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, causing the league to designate the kick a block the next morning.
“There is just so many variables that go into it,” Nagy said. “There’s so many different ways: how hard is a ball kicked; when it gets tipped, [does] it affect the way it goes; what’s the trajectory of a 43-yard field goal when you’re kicking that; the blocking assignments. And there’s also the element of the other team trying to make a good play, too. There’s just so many variables.
“The end result is that we didn’t make it.”
Less than a year after he signed a four-year, $15 million deal, Parkey figures to pay the price.
“However many [unrestricted free agents] we signed last year, you’re never gonna bat 1.000,” Pace said. “I know Cody wishes he had a better season. We wish he had a better season, too.
“We’ve just got to evaluate that now. You’ve got to be honest with yourselves in these. I think as we go forward, that’s when we’ve got to be real and say, ‘Hey, that’s an important position for us. It’s a position of emphasis.’
“We want more production out of that position, and we’re gonna get that.”