Bears May Land Their Next Leg In Draft

LSU kicker Cole Tracy
Photo credit Julie Bennett/USA Today Sports
(670 The Score) The market for kickers has all but closed by this second wave of NFL free agency, and the Bears have passed on the available options.

Veteran Stephen Gostkowski, the best kicker available on the open market, is reportedly in talks with the Patriots on a new contract that would close the door on the possibility of landing in Chicago. The Vikings officially signed Dan Bailey to a one-year deal Friday. The Jets signed Chandler Catanzaro last week after losing Jason Myers to the Seahawks in free agency.

Where does that all leave the Bears? Barring a surprise, they will likely be looking for a solution at kicker in the NFL Draft in late April. With many other teams filling such voids in free agency, the Bears should have their choice of kicker prospects -- with LSU's Cole Tracy, Utah's Matt Gay and Oklahoma's Austin Seibert representing the leading options.

The Bears met with those three kickers at the NFL Combine in February. Drafting a kicker would offer the Bears the chance to address that position for the long term and only bring a minimal cap hit, assuming the selection comes on Day 3 of the draft.

Last year, the Vikings drafted kicker Daniel Carlson in the fifth round, which gave him a base salary of $480,000. However, he was released after just two games, having missed all three of his field-goal attempts in a costly 29-29 tie with the Packers on Sept. 16. That serves as a reminder for the Bears of the difficulty comes in scouting kicking prospects. The Dolphins drafted kicker Jason Sanders in the seventh round, finding a potential long-term fit as he converted 18 of 20 field-goal attempts in 2018. He also earned a base salary of $480,000.

After cutting kicker Cody Parkey last week -- and paying him the remaining $3.5 million guaranteed of the four-year deal he signed last March -- the Bears have two kickers on the roster in Redford Jones and Chris Blewitt. Neither of those offseason additions have kicked in the NFL, and both have plenty to prove in order to potentially win the Bears' open position.

If the Bears do invest a draft pick to address their kicking dilemma, it would be that individual's job to lose. It seems as if they're heading in that direction.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​