Bears GM won't say if Parkey will be back next season
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By ANDREW SELIGMAN
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace wouldn't say if Cody Parkey will return for another season, and coach Matt Nagy called out the struggling kicker for appearing on the "Today" show last week.
Pace was adamant Monday that the Bears need improvement in the kicking game, calling it a "position of emphasis for us." When asked if Parkey will return for a second season, he said: "Those are things that need to play out as we go into it."
Parkey's future is the biggest question surrounding the Bears after their breakthrough season.
They settled one big issue when they hired Chuck Pagano on Friday after Vic Fangio left to take the Denver Broncos' head coaching job. But Parkey's status is shaky at best.
The Bears went 12-4 to win the NFC North in their first year under Nagy after four straight last-place finishes and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. It ended in a cruel way, with Parkey's potential winning field goal hitting the left upright and crossbar in a 16-15 wild-card loss to Philadelphia at Soldier Field.
On Friday, he appeared on the "Today" show. And that did not sit well with Nagy.
He said Parkey didn't tell him in his exit interview that he would be going on the show. Nagy didn't remember exactly when he found out it would happen.
"We always talk about a `we' and not a `me' thing, and we always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team," Nagy said. "You know, I just, I didn't necessarily think that that was too much of a `we' thing."
Parkey's struggles were one of the few sore spots for the Bears.
The Bears signed him to a four-year contract hoping he could give them the consistency they have lacked since they cut Robbie Gould prior to the 2016 season.
Instead, he made just 23of 30 field goals for the third-lowest conversion rate in the NFL. He was 42 of 45 on extra points.
Six of his misses counting the playoffs hit uprights. He nailed them four times while missing two field goals and two extra points in a victory over Detroit at Soldier Field on Nov. 11. He also hit an upright on a missed PAT at Minnesota in the regular-season finale.
Parkey didn't start practicing at Soldier Field, where winds off Lake Michigan can wreak havoc, during the week until after the Detroit game. That's something Gould and Kevin Butler, two of the most successful kickers in franchise history, used to do.
Even if they keep Parkey for now, Pace vowed to bring in competition.
"However many (free agents) we signed last year, you're never going to bat a thousand," Pace said. "I know Cody wishes he had a better season. We wish he had a better season, too."
The Bears don't expect to make major changes on defense. That group led by Khalil Mack and two other All-Pros in safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Kyle Fuller ranked among the best in the NFL. And Pagano - like Fangio - has experience with 3-4 defenses.
"We've done a lot of good things, but I'm sure Chuck is going to bring a lot of good things to add to the able as well," Pace said.
The Bears did not rule out trying to sign former Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs released the 2017 rushing champion after video surfaced showing him knocking over and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February.
"As we go into that, obviously there's a lot of things off the field that he's got to take care of," Pace said. "Matt knows Kareem. I don't know Kareem, but those things are all going to have to play out."
Nagy worked with Hunt in Kansas City and talked to him about a week ago.
"The situation that happened is unfortunate for everybody, and he knows that," Nagy said. "The only thing I cared about when I talked to him was literally his personal life, how he's doing, and it was a good conversation."
Notes: Pace said the Bears plan to pick up their fifth-year option for the 2020 season on linebacker Leonard Floyd. ... WR Anthony Miller will have shoulder surgery. ... Pace said Mack will miss the Pro Bowl because of a sprained knee. ... Nagy wasn't sure if Ed Donatell will return as defensive backs coach. He interviewed for the defensive coordinator job and has an expiring contract.
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Updated January 14, 2019