Parkey's future with the team remains in doubt, as evidenced when Pace was asked directly whether he'll be back with the Bears next season. Little that Pace or coach Matt Nagy said suggested Parkey will be back.
"That position is an emphasis for us," Pace said. "We understand we need to get better, get more production out of that position. Matt talks about it all the time: There’s so much parity in our league, so many close games, the kicker position is critical. We know we need to get better there, and it’ll be an area of focus."
Parkey missed the go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the Bears' 16-15 loss to the Eagles on Jan. 6, with the kick hitting the left upright and the crossbar before bouncing out. Parkey did hit three field goals earlier in that game, but the miss in the clutch situation that ended the team's season made him a subject of major criticism in the aftermath of the loss.
In a move creating even more negative attention for Parkey, he appeared on the "Today Show" last Friday to address his missed field goal and what followed in the days since. That appearance didn't sit well with his bosses. When Nagy conducted his exit meeting with Parkey, Parkey didn't mention that appearance or run it past the Bears.
"We always talk about a 'we' and not a 'me' thing," Nagy said. "And we always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. I didn't necessarily think that was too much of a 'we' thing."
The Bears signed Parkey to a four-year, $15-million deal last March, a contract in which $9 million was guaranteed. He hit 23 of 30 field-goal attempts in the regular season and missed three extra-point attempts.
Parkey's misses were what defined his first season in Chicago. In a Nov. 11 win against the Lions, he missed four kicks off the uprights. On Oct. 14, Parkey also missed a potential game-winning field goal in an eventual overtime loss to the Dolphins. Had the Bears won one more regular-season game, they would've secured a first-round bye in the playoffs.
"That’s going to be an emphasis and focus for us, the kicker position," Pace said. "And there’ll definitely be competition there."