The Bears are down to one kicker on their 90-man roster after cutting Elliott Fry on Sunday, but it took them a long way to get to that point.
They brought in nine kickers for a tryout session at one point in the offseason and carried four kickers on the roster for a while. The number of kickers brought in was an aspect of their kicking search that longtime NFL special teams coach Mike Westhoff and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri said they found curious in Karyn Kahler of SI.com’s deep dive into the Bears’ hunt for a kicker.
Other aspects were the focus on having aspiring kickers attempt kicks from the same distance as Cody Parkey’s playoff miss and a belief that kickers who had worked with consultant Jamie Kohl in the past got preferential treatment over the course of the process. That group includes Fry and Eddy Pineiro, who is the only kicker currently on the roster in Chicago.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy defended the team’s process on Wednesday.
“I understand — we brought in a lot of kickers that came in here,” Nagy said, via ESPN.com. “To me, I look at it as a positive, in the fact that we said we going to turn over every stone to find whoever’s out there. We felt like we, at that point in time, when we brought in a bunch of kickers, we’re going to test them all out and see what they can do. And then, within that time frame, we also put in some situations with the Augusta Silence early on to see how they could handle it. Is it exactly the perfect science? I don’t know that, maybe not. . . . I just really like how we’re going through this thing. [Bears General Manager] Ryan [Pace] and I talk about no regrets, right?”
The team has not made any commitment to Pineiro, so his hold on the job is likely only as secure as the options that shake loose as teams drop to 53 players ahead of Week One. The performance of the ultimate choice will serve as the final word on whether the Bears should have any regrets about how they handled things.