ICYMI: Bears news from NFL Combine

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With the NFL Combine concluding Monday, here’s a look back at the news made by the Bears, primarily when general manager Ryan Pace spoke to the media:

  • Pace confirmed that kicker Cody Parkey will be released when the new league year starts March 13, saying: “It’s really performance-based at the end of the day.” Parkey missed 11 kicks in his first season with the Bears in 2018—eight field goals and three extra points. His final miss came on a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal in a 16-15 wild-card playoff loss to the Eagles that hit the left upright and the crossbar.
  • Pace stressed that the Bears will “explore every avenue” in continuing their quest to find Parkey’s replacement. That includes the possibility of drafting a kicker. “Whatever’s best for the Bears, we’ll consider,” Pace said. Asked what will be prioritized in a new kicker, the general manager said: “I think leg strength is important, especially in Chicago. You’ve got to knife through the wind.” Pace also said he wouldn’t be opposed to bringing more than two kickers to training camp.
  • After speaking with his players individually one day after the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles, coach Matt Nagy expressed confidence that they’ll return for the start of the offseason program in mid-April with the right mentality. “The hunger that was in our players’ guts and what was in their eyes when we talked and I met with them individually, you can’t make that up,” Nagy said. “They’re ready. They’re ready to get back at it.”
  • Nagy expects the Bears to rebound from their bitter playoff loss just like they did following a disappointing season-opening defeat in Green Bay. After blowing a 20-0 lead in an eventual 24-23 loss, they reeled off three straight victories and ultimately won 12 of their final 15 games to win their first division title since 2010. “You obviously don’t want it to end like it did,” Nagy said. “You want to be the team holding the trophy in the end. I’ll make that clear. But I relate it to that Green Bay Packers game in Week 1, where we have the lead and we end up losing that lead. It was a sick feeling, but guess what? Our guys used that for motivation the rest of the year. So hopefully we can use that loss to Philly as motivation.”
  • Pace lauded veteran right guard Kyle Long for agreeing to a restructured contract that will help create salary cap space for the Bears. “It’s really a credit to Kyle,” Pace said, “a testament to him, the person he is, the player he is. I think he speaks to our culture and we’re happy to have Kyle long-term.”
  • Pace indicated that it’s possible the Bears could sign both safety Adrian Amos and nickel back Bryce Callahan, who are due to become free agents. “I wouldn’t say it’s either/or and there’s ongoing discussions,” Pace said. Amos led Bears defensive backs and finished third on the team with 72 tackles while also registering two interceptions. “I thought he played well,” Pace said. “He played solid and the ball production increased as the season went on. I think he was comfortable in the defense. He’s an example of a player that we drafted and developed and he’s gotten better. He’s a great teammate and a good Bear.”
  • Pace revealed that the Bears discussed the possibility of signing running back Kareem Hunt, but the team never pursued him. Said Pace: “Did we talk about it? Yes. Was it serious? No. I think every scenario that comes up, we’d do our team a disservice if we didn’t discuss every scenario. We talked about it, but it never got serious.”
  • Pace reported that receiver Anthony Miller underwent shoulder surgery right after the season and may be limited in offseason workouts. “He’s doing well and so we’ll have to progress through the offseason,” Pace said. “There’s not a timeline, but he’s right on pace.”
  • Coming off a 12-4 campaign, Pace said that he feels more pressure heading into this offseason than he did last year after a 5-11 season. “I feel like, ‘Hey, we put ourselves in the position and you’re never staying the same. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.’ We want to make sure we are getting better,” Pace said. “I just feel like, ‘Hey, you never want to revert, right?’ The expectations are high, and we want that; they should be high.”
  • While the Bears have less salary cap space and fewer draft picks than previous years, they’re in much better shape with 21 of 22 starters under contract on a team that won the NFC North title in 2018. “It’s refreshing to look at the depth chart and not be overwhelmed by all the needs everywhere,” Pace said. “Now we can pinpoint and tweak and fine-tune, and that’s exciting.”

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