Bears free-agency preview: Specialists

Bears free-agency preview: Specialists

Part of a position-by-position preview of where the Bears stand entering free agency on Tuesday.

SPECIALISTS

Signed for 2015: Robbie Gould, Pat O’Donnell, Marc Mariani.

Expiring contracts: Jeremy Cain, Jay Feely.

Top-shelf free agents: Shayne Graham.

On the bargain rack: Mat McBriar, Matt Prater, Joe McKnight, Brandon Tate, Dwayne Harris.

Position synopsis: Gould, signed through 2017, missed the final four games of last season with a quadriceps injury and sputtered through his worst season as a Bear, making just nine of his 12 field-goal attempts and going 46 days between made field goals at one point. All expectations are that he returns to form. O’Donnell had a solid rookie season and seemed to grow more confident as the year went along, averaging 43.8 gross yards per punt. In the return game, the Bears spent 2014 in scramble mode, trying out a new option seemingly every month. That instability can’t continue.

Worth asking: Will Mariani win the return jobs?

As the rest of the team experienced a dismal downslide down the stretch of last season, Mariani flashed potential as a return man. He was sound with his decisions yet willing to take chances and uncorked a 67-yard kickoff return in the season finale at Minnesota. Signed through 2015, he’s at least worth a look as the Bears look for more special teams pop.

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
39°