Cody Parkey

Jets Audition K Cody Parkey

With Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet struggling during the preseason finale, the team is apparently eyeing some alternative options. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that the Jets auditioned a pair of kickers today: Cody Parkey and Younghoe Koo.

Veteran Chandler Catanzaro, retired earlier this month, forcing the Jets to sign a kicker. After auditioning several veterans, the team landed on Bertolet, who was with the Jets last summer. The 26-year-old was shaky throughout the preseason; he missed a pair of extra points during the second game, was perfect in the third, and then missed three field goals during the finale.

Bertolet has shown that he can absolutely boot the ball, but accuracy has continued to be an issue. Still, the kicker is confident in his abilities.

“I’ve been that guy who goes out and makes long kicks,” Bertolet told Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com. “And that part of the reason why I think our coaching staff had confidence to put me out there. … It’s usually the kicks that I make, and I’m looking forward to correcting that.”

We haven’t heard from Parkey since he was released by the Bears back in February. The 27-year-old missed a potential game winner against the Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs, putting him on thin ice. He later made an appearance on NBC’s Today show that rubbed head coach Matt Nagy the wrong way. The veteran struggled during the 2018 regular season, connecting on only 76.7-percent of his field goal attempts.

Koo, 25, appeared in four games for the Chargers in 2017, connecting on three of his six field goal attempts and all nine of his extra point tries. He spent last season playing in the Alliance of American Football.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Release Cody Parkey

The Bears will release Cody Parkey at the start of the league year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Rapoport hears that Parkey is embracing the fresh start and it doesn’t hurt that Parkey is still owed a guaranteed $3.5MM from Chicago in 2019. 

The 27-year-old missed a potential game winner against the Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs, putting him on thin ice. His 43-yard try off the upright was a heartbreaker, though it wasn’t exactly Parkey’s fault as it was tipped by defensive tackle Treyvon Hester. After that, he may have put his job in further jeopardy when he made a guest appearance on NBC’s Today show to discuss the miss. The lighthearted segment rubbed head coach Matt Nagy the wrong way and drew the ire of many Bears fans.

For me, you understand that we always talk about a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ thing,” Nagy said. “We always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. You know, I just, I didn’t necessarily think that that was too much of a ‘we’ thing.”

By discontinuing Parkey’s four-year, $15MM deal, the Bears will be left with a $4.4MM dead cap hit for the upcoming year.

Soon after Parkey’s national TV appearance, the Bears auditioned a group of six or seven kickers including Nick FolkBlair Walsh, and Austin MacGinnis. They wound up signing one of the lesser-known names, Redford Jones, after the tryout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Audition Several Kickers

The Bears are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to upgrade the kicker position. On Friday, they’ll work out a group of six or seven kickers including Nick Folk, Blair Walsh, and Austin MacGinnis, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). 

Parkey missed a potential game winner against the Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs, putting him on thin ice. His 43-yard try off the upright was a heartbreaker, though it wasn’t exactly Parkey’s fault as it was tipped by defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

The 26-year-old kicker (27 in February) may have put his job in further jeopardy when he made a guest appearance on NBC’s Today show to discuss the miss. The lighthearted segment rubbed head coach Matt Nagy the wrong way and drew the ire of many Bears fans.

For me, you understand that we always talk about a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ thing,” Nagy said (via ESPN.com). “We always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. You know, I just, I didn’t necessarily think that that was too much of a ‘we’ thing.”

It certainly sounds like the Bears want to replace Parkey, but his contract complicates matters. Parkey joined the Bears on a four-year, $15MM deal last offseason which calls for a $4.4MM dead cap hit if he is released before the 2019 season. Earlier this month, GM Ryan Pace indicated that the contract will not necessarily keep them from moving on.

We talk about those things [the financial ramifications], but the most important thing is performance,” Pace said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bears, Steelers, Browns

The Bears intend to bring in competition for much-maligned kicker Cody Parkey, according to general manager Ryan Pace (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). “We need more production out of that position,” said Pace. “It will be an emphasis of focus for us.” Parkey, of course, had a game-winning kick blocked in the final seconds of Chicago’s Wild Card round loss to the Eagles, but his results during the regular season were also unspectacular. Signed to a four-year, $15MM contract last March, Parkey proceeded to finish third-to-last in the NFL with a 76.7% field goal conversion rate. Football Outsiders‘ special teams metrics, meanwhile, ranked the Bears 29th in field goals and extra points. Chicago, which handed Parkey $9MM in full guarantees, would incur more than $5MM in dead money by cutting the 26-year-old.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Bengals head coach-to-be Zac Taylor is “very interested” in having Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan join his new staff in Cincinnati, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). The only problem? Callahan is still under contract in Washington, so the Redskins would need to permit the move. The Bengals parted ways with OL coach Frank Pollack earlier this week, so they’re looking for a new coach to lead their front five. Taylor played quarterback under Callahan at Nebraska, so the two certainly have a familiarity.
  • The Steelers have hired North Carolina State tight ends/fullbacks/special teams coach Eddie Faulkner as their new running backs coach, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Faulkner coached current Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels as recently as 2017, and he’ll now have the opportunity to lead both Samuels and James Conner next season. He’ll replace James Saxon, who left to take the same position with the Cardinals.
  • After losing former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to the Broncos, the Bears are overhauling their defensive staff under new play-caller Chuck Pagano. Safeties coach Roy Anderson and linebackers coach Glenn Pires will not be retained, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter links). Pagano surely wants to formulate his own staff, but Anderson had worked with Pagano in both Baltimore and Indianapolis, so his departure is relatively surprising.
  • Broncos’ offensive tackles coach Chris Strausser is generating interest from the Browns, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. Strausser, who handled Denver’s tackles while Sean Kugler (who recently left for the Cardinals) managed the club’s interior offensive line, is likely being allowed to pursue other opportunities now that Fangio is in place. Cleveland recently hired ex-Packers offensive line coach James Campen for the same role.

Extra Points: Bucs, Koetter, Bears, Parkey, Bengals, Kirkpatrick

After a promising start, the Buccaneers have spiraled downward. The team is now 3-6, they’ve shuffled between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times, and the offense is completely in the tank. The defense has been historically bad, and coach Dirk Koetter is firmly on the hot seat.

In a move seemingly made out of desperation, Koetter took back play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the team’s loss to the Redskins, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Monken had been calling plays all season, and had been widely praised for the Bucs’ initial offensive success. Whatever Koetter was trying to accomplish clearly didn’t work, as the Buccaneers scored just three points today. A move might not be made until the end of the season, but it seems pretty clear Koetter’s time with the organization is coming to an end.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed two field goals and two extra points today against Detroit, but Chicago coach Matt Nagy ruled out replacing him after the game, according to ESPN.com. Parkey has now missed five field goals this season, but Nagy flat-out rejected the notion the team would look for a new kicker. Parkey missed a potential game-winner in overtime against the Dolphins a few weeks back.
  • The Bengals were demolished by the Saints at home today, and their already injury depleted defense got even more bad news. Starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was ruled out for the game with a concussion and is currently in the concussion protocol, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Bengals are already down multiple starters on defense, so they can’t afford to be without Kirkpatrick.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are expected to place the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

Bears To Sign K Cody Parkey

Former Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey intends to sign with the Bears, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s a four-year deal worth $15MM ($9MM guaranteed), reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter).

Parkey’s signing, of course, is not the biggest news of the day for the Bears. Already, Chicago has agreed to terms with wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton, giving them two of this year’s top available offensive weapons.

Parkey, 26, spent the 2017 campaign with the Dolphins after kicking for the Browns from 2015-16. Last year marked the best season of Parkey’s career, as he nailed 91.3% of his field goal attempts. In Chicago, Parkey will reunite with longtime Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Heading into free agency, PFR had ranked Parkey as the top free agent kicker on the board.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the BillsDolphinsPatriots, and Jets are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Dolphins Claim Cody Parkey

The Dolphins have claimed kicker Cody Parkey off waivers from the Browns, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network (via Twitter). Parkey will provide competition for incumbent Andrew Franks, who missed a 40-yard field goal in the team’s final preseason contest on Thursday.

Parkey made 80% of his field goal attempts (20-of-25) for Cleveland last season, while Franks connected on just 76.2% of his attempts (16-of-21) for Miami in 2016.

Browns Trim Roster To 53

The Browns have reduced their roster to the league-mandated 53 players by making the following transactions:

Acquired:

Released:

Waived: