Chicago Bears kicking competition over, but position not set

The Chicago Bears ended their kicking competition on Sunday with the release of kicker Elliott Fry. Kicker Eddy Pineiro will be the team’s sole kicker for the last two preseason games and will be the team’s regular-season kicker if he performs well the rest of the way.

But while Pineiro will get his two-week audition, it doesn’t mean he’s the permanent solution and head coach Matt Nagy knows just that.

“Like any position, we’re always gonna be looking for the best. I think for Eddy, though, he needs to understand that we feel really good with where he’s at. He’s never kicked in an NFL game before. So that could go a couple different ways,” Nagy said. “It could go really good, it could go really bad. We don’t know that answer. But for right now, we feel good with where he’s at. We want him to keep kicking like he’s been. But we’re always going to keep that thing open. And not just at that position — every position until we make that final 53.”

Releasing Fry brings an end to an intense kicking competition that started immediately after Cody Parkey’s missed kick against the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. Chicago at one point had eight kickers compete for the job with Pineiro and Fry being the remaining two as training camp started.

Both started training camp off hot making a high percentage of their kicks, including some long field goal attempts. Although he missed on his first attempt last Sunday against the Panthers, Pineiro rebounded Friday night against the Giants making both his field-goal attempts.

Although good against Panthers, Fry missed his only attempt against the Giants and had the less powerful leg of the two kickers. It will be interesting to see if he signs on with another team and is given the last two preseason games to win a potential starting role for the regular season.

Veteran kicker, Mike Nugent could be signed if Pineiro struggles against the Colts, Titans, or to start the regular season. Nugent was the Bears kicker for the final four games in 2017. Only one of the four games was at Soldier field as he was two for three on extra-point attempts including one that was blocked. His familiarity with Chicago would give him the edge amongst any current free agent kicker.

The Bears put all their time and effort over the last eight months to finding the right kicker for their team. One can hope that Pineiro is the right choice because having kicking issues for a third consecutive season would be disastrous.

If the Bears lose a regular-season game, let alone another playoff game due to a missed kick, it may be something that haunts general manager Ryan Pace for the rest of his tenure as general manager.

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