The Bears' free-agent spending spree Tuesday was about more than helping quarterback Mitch Trubisky become an elite passer. It was about acquiring personnel who put up points after the team ranked 29th in the NFL in scoring last season.
That push led the Bears to free-agent kicker Cody Parkey, with whom they agreed in principle on a contract. Terms of the agreement were not revealed, but the deal is expected to be finalized Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because new deals can't be made official until the new league year begins.
The Bears are counting on Parkey to stabilize a kicking situation that generally has been inconsistent since 2014. The 26-year-old converted 21 of 23 field goal attempts for the Dolphins last season, and he was 7-for-9 from 40 yards or longer, with a long of 54. He made 26 of 29 extra-point attempts.
He has made 76 of 88 field goal tries in a four-year career with the Eagles, Browns and Dolphins. As a rookie with the Eagles in 2014, he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate after breaking the NFL rookie single-season scoring record Bears kicker Kevin Butler set in 1985.
When Parkey was with the Browns for 14 games in 2016, the special teams coordinator there was Chris Tabor, who now holds that position on coach Matt Nagy's new Bears staff.
The Bears also have agreements in place with coveted wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.
Hero's farewell: While the agent for Burton was busy finalizing an agreement between his client and the Bears, the Eagles Super Bowl hero was in Clearwater, Fla., to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Phillies spring training exhibition game.
Burton shared with reporters some insight about how he believes he fits with the Bears. He will be familiar with Nagy's offense because, like the Eagles' scheme, it traces to Andy Reid, the current Chiefs coach and former Eagles coach. The precision passing concepts and option elements will overlap.
"Any time you have a chance to go to a team that has a really similar offense is key," Burton told reporters according to Philly.com. "You don't have to learn everything all over again. I wanted a young team that could win now. Once you have been to the pinnacle, dude, you want to go back as much as you possibly can."
Burton lamented that the Eagles did not offer him a contract extension. The 26-year-old caught five touchdown passes for them during 2017 despite playing behind Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. Ertz's presence and the Eagles' commitment to him drove Burton to the open market.
In throwing out the first pitch Tuesday, Burton re-enacted his famous "Philly Special" fourth-down touchdown pass that helped beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Expired Cheese: Christian Jones is departing the Bears to join the Lions on a two-year deal, ESPN reported.
There was a market for the linebacker affectionately known as "Cheese" because of his versatility as a reserve last season. Because of injuries to Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski and several outside linebackers, he played 59 percent of the defensive snaps and ended up with 84 tackles, second-most on the team.
Jones attributed his emergence to increased comfort in the defense and maturity as a professional. His instincts started to catch up a bit to his athleticism, which always has stood out. The Bears will miss having that depth.
Tender care: The Bears announced they protected their rights to restricted free-agent receivers Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy and cornerback Bryce Callahan by tendering them one-year contracts at the right-of-first-refusal level. The announcement of those tenders that the Tribune reported Monday, is an indication inside linebacker John Timu and tight end Daniel Brown were not tendered. Those two, however, still are able to re-sign with the team.
Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane contributed
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