3. Hit the upgrade button
You probably thought this was going to be all about Cody Parkey. And we will get to him in a second, but we need to park for a minute (no pun intended) on his special teams’ partner in crime(s) (against humanity), Pat O’Donnell.
O’Donnell is infuriating as a fan for a number of reasons, but the number one culprit is his inconsistency, which was on full display Sunday afternoon. There was the Bears’ first possession where O’Donnell pinned the Philadelphia Eagles at the one-yard line with a beautiful 49-yard punt out of bounds.
Contrast that with the Bears’ second-to-last possession. Up five with 4:48 seconds left to play with the team on their own 24-yard line, the Bears needed O’Donnell to come through following a three-and-out. Instead, he seemingly kicked a lead balloon 36 yards, setting the Eagles up with great field position.
His 45-yard average this season was sixth-worst among punters. On the flip-side, he had the second most touchbacks in the league with seven. In other words, he doesn’t kick it far and he doesn’t pin them inside the 20-yard line. Consequently, the Bears need to hit the upgrade button on this unrestricted free agent.
As for Parkey — there really isn’t much to be said. He has to go. The only potential argument for bringing him back is the salary cap hit the team would take by releasing him. However, you don’t bite off your nose to spite your face, just like you don’t double-down on a bad decision.
It was a bad idea to give him $9 million guaranteed. It was a bad idea not to replace him midseason, and instead let him miss 11 kicks this season. It would be cataclysmic if Pace brings him back next year. The players did the right thing and supported Parkey, but it’s inconceivable how he could come back and kick at Soldier Field again. It just feels like it would be best for all parties concerned for Parkey to go his separate way, and for the Bears to start fresh.