It appears as though Andy Phillips’ time with the Chicago Bears was short-lived, as the undrafted free agent kicker from Utah posted this on Twitter Sunday night:
Very grateful for the short time I was able to be a Chicago Bear! Here's to future opportunities 🏈 pic.twitter.com/yNXBwlEzFr
— Andy Phillips (@AndyDPhillips) August 7, 2017
As it turns out, the Bears have waived Phillips and signed wide receiver Alton Howard (ESPN). Howard was a four-star recruit who signed with Tennessee, but never lived up to his high school prospect ranking. He also comes with a bit of baggage after being dismissed by Volunteers head coach Butch Jones in October 2015 for a violation of team rules.
As for the departed kicker, the Bears plucked Phillips shortly after the draft as an undrafted free agent, and he was supposed to provide the camp competition for returning place kicker Connor Barth. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be for the Utah kicker, who the Bears waived on Monday. The 28-year-old rookie put through 44 of 52 attempts (84.6%) during his junior and senior seasons at Utah, and capped off his college career by making four field goals in a 26-24 win against Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl.
And then there’s Barth, who connected on just 18 of 23 attempts last season. His 78.3 percent success rate that was his lowest since 2009 (73.7%). From 2010 to 2015, Barth made 86.5 percent of his attempts, with seven of his 18 misses coming from 50 yards or longer.
Place kicking might be one of the last things on the minds of the Bears’ front office during their rebuild. The team’s 23 attempts were the fifth fewest in the NFL in 2016. However, only nine teams had a lower red zone touchdown scoring percentage than the Bears in 2016. Perhaps the Bears will put more of an emphasis on scoring touchdowns in 2017, especially if Barth has a repeat performance of a disappointing first season in Chicago.