Cody Parkey has played at Soldier Field in just one exhibition game in his four-year NFL career, so he has much to learn about kicking in a place where the elements aren’t always friendly.
But the newest Bears kicker, who signed a four-year, $15 million contract last week, looks to a past example to show he can have success in Chicago.
“You see a guy like Robbie Gould who had so much success here, obviously it’s possible to be a good kicker here,” Parkey said. “I hope I’m here for a long time, and I hope I can have the success that someone like Robbie Gould had. He was an incredible kicker here.”
After two seasons of shuffling kickers, the Bears hope Parkey, 26, finally is their long-term solution to filling the void left when they cut Gould.
The Bears parted with Gould, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and kicker of 11 seasons, before the 2016 season in favor of Connor Barth. They cut Barth this year after he went 11-for-16 on field goals in 10 games. Cairo Santos then joined the team, but suffered a groin injury in his second game. Mike Nugent came on for the final four games of the season.
In the middle of all the uncertainty at the position, Gould returned to Soldier Field in December and made five field goals, including the game-winner, in the 49ers’ 15-14 victory over the Bears.
The Bears are guaranteeing Parkey $9 million to stop the cycle of disappointment.
“I don’t see it as pressure,” Parkey said. “I just look at it that I prepare all year for this and when I get out in the field, most of the time it takes care of itself. I’m human. Mistakes happen, but I just go out there and I do my best and I put my best foot forward.”
Parkey, whose father grew up a Bears fan in Naperville, called himself a “well-rounded” kicker who has experience in tough weather conditions after playing two seasons with the Eagles and one season each with the Browns and Dolphins.
Perhaps his best season came as a rookie with the Eagles in 2014, when he was 32-for-36 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 54, and 54-for-54 on extra-point attempts. He was selected for the Pro Bowl that season. He went on injured reserve with a groin injury after just three games in 2015.
In 2017 with the Dolphins, he was 21-for-23 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 54, and 26-for-29 on extra-point attempts.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace called Parkey a “proven kicker” and pointed to the fact he has experience working with new special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. Parkey played for Tabor in Cleveland and said he liked the idea of working with him again.
“In the back of my mind, when teams were calling, I knew I had a familiarity here,” Parkey said. “He knows what I’m good at. He knows what can I improve on and stuff like that. Knowing he was here definitely added a sense of comfort for me.”
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