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SportsMonday: Parkey & Pace

I knew cutting Cody Parkey would result in a salary cap hit against the Bears in 2019. I didn't know until this past week that it is a $5.1 million (!) hit. Wow, but Ryan Pace has been the most hit-and-miss general manager we've ever seen in these parts.

He was so good with his second coaching hire, his non-quarterback free agent signings (especially in 2018 but also Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan et al in the previous two years) and drafting in the fourth round in 2017 (Pro Bowlers Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen). He has been so bad evaluating kickers, quarterbacks and with at least half of the rest of his draft picks. And there haven't been nearly enough draft picks in general.

I suppose you also have to acknowledge that Pace was good at not screwing things up with the left tackle (Charles Leno) and shutdown cornerback (Kyle Fuller) he inherited.

You would think Parkey nailed the coffin shut on his Bears career with his ludicrous appearance on the Today show on Friday.

But given what he is owed, my guess is he at least gets an invite to training camp late this coming summer and if he performs best there, Parkey is the Bears' kicker going into next season.

Then again, the thing that will potentially save Pace from all of his mistakes is the ever-skyrocketing cap. It was announced late last year that next season's total per-team salary limit will be $190 million, up from $176 million. That increase is why it was so stupid of Jon Gruden to trade away Khalil Mack from the Raiders. Gruden claimed his team couldn't afford huge contracts for both its quarterback (Derek Carr) and a star pass rusher. He was clearly wrong.

And the big cap is why the Bears can actually, probably, afford to eat Parkey's salary and re-sign any of their own free agents - primarily right tackle Bobby Massie, safety Adrian Amos and nickelback Bryce Callahan - if they so choose.

The main thing is, I'm not ready to let go of reviewing the Bears' 2018-19 season (certainly not until Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace face the post-season press-conference music Monday) because there has not yet been a full accounting of all the ways the Bears choked away a glorious opportunity against the Eagles and in this post-season in general.

Did you notice what happened this past weekend? While AFC powers New England and Kansas City jumped all over their foes in the first halves and cruised to playoff victories on that side of the draw, the NFC's Rams and Saints struggled mightily before finally eking out wins against exhausted and injured squads from Dallas and Philadelphia, respectively.

Upset road wins over the Rams and the Saints and a trip to the Super Bowl were there for the taking . . . until Parkey's double-doink.

A few other factors: I would give it maybe a 30 percent chance that the Bears' defense is adversely affected in a big way by the departure of Vic Fangio and the arrival of new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. But this is one of the many things that people need to remember when they say, "Just wait til next year!" in the NFL. One of the things that happens from one generic season to the next is that successful coordinators leave to become head coaches.

And then there is the fact that this year's Bears team was so lucky to avoid more injuries. I think NFL announcers in general are doing a better job of not saying things like, "This team has been so plagued by injuries," because being plagued by injuries is now normal in this league. The game is too violent and too fast for there not to be numerous infirmities appearing each week for each team.

And yet the Bears took on the Eagles with just two beginning-of-the-year starters on the bench - the aforementioned Mr. Jackson and the still mysteriously groin-pulled Trey Burton (when did it happen, Bears? In the Saturday night buffet line?) That will never happen again in our Bear fan lifetimes and the fact that the Bears failed to take advantage is just so aggravating.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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