The Bears will open their offseason program Monday with three kickers vying to replace Cody Parkey, after signing Elliott Fry, most recently with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football league’s Orlando Apollos, to a three-year contract Friday.
Fry, who joins fellow former UDFAs Redford Jones and Chris Blewitt in the battle to stabilize Chicago's kicking situation after Parkey’s release one season into a four-year contract with $9 million guaranteed, converted 14-of-14 field goals for the Apollos prior to the AAF abruptly folding with two weeks remaining in its inaugural season.
After beginning his three-year career at the University of South Carolina as a walk-on, Fry finished in 2016 as the Gamecocks’ all-time leading scorer, after converting 66-of-88 field goals and 161-of-162 PATs. He now becomes one of approximately 50 AAF cast-offs to latch on with an NFL roster.
The Bears signed Fry after holding earlier this week their third known kicker tryout of the offseason at Halas Hall, where fellow ex-AAF kickers Younghoe Koo and Nick Rose and fellow former Charger Caleb Sturgis were in attendance. Unlike those three, Fry has no NFL experience, same as Jones and Blewitt.
“So right now we’re all just very open-minded,” Bears GM Ryan Pace said last month of the kicking competition. "We have two kickers on the roster now and we’re open to continue to add competition to the position — and the keyword is competition at that spot. And doing creative things to make them feel that pressure and that competition.
Because the more we study it and the more we look at kickers around the league, we can talk about [New Orleans Saints PK Wil] Lutz or [Baltimore Ravens PK Justin] Tucker and all these guys, you look at how they came into the league and where they came from, there’s so many different angles and avenues how they came and became good kickers. So we’re very open right now in increasing competition there.”