The Bears don’t currently have an NFL kicker. Not really.
Sure, they kept Chris Blewitt and Elliot Fry from this past weekend’s #KickerFest19. Sure, they also traded a CONDITIONAL 7th-round pick from sometime in the next decade to acquire Eddy Pineiro from the Oakland Raiders. But even if these three unproven men wow the organization throughout OTAs and the summer, and even if they all stick on the roster come the preseason and are perfect through fake-game action, the Bears will not know if they have an NFL kicker until Thursday night, September 5th. Because that’s when the Green Bay Packers come to town. That’s when the result gets stapled to the GM and head coach. And that’s when the kicks actually matter.
Maybe one of these three ends up “the guy” come opening night. Or maybe Ryan Pace is still laying in the weeds, waiting out a fragile situation in San Francisco. No, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe Robbie Gould will be the one kicking against the Packers on that Thursday night in September. As one league source texted me, “Gould doesn’t want to be there anymore and the entire sport knows where he wants to be.” He wants to be home, with his family, in Chicago. But will Niners GM John Lynch allow a kicker to hold him hostage? Will he have a choice if Gould, you know, doesn’t show up for work?
The Bears are a championship contender. They have the league’s most talented defense and an offense that should be drastically improved with another year of experience in this NFL-proven system. But if they enter the 2019 campaign with a liability at the kicker position it will be impossible to pick them to win at all. Because at some point – maybe with a division, or home field, or another playoff game at stake – they’ll need a kick in a big spot.
On May 8th, the Bears can’t possibly believe they can make that kick. But it’s only May 8th.