Bears News: Could kicker competition mean reunion with Robbie Gould?
Brad Rempel - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Could kicker competition mean reunion with Robbie Gould?

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Going into this offseason, there appears to be some kicker competition in Chicago. Cairo Santos just finished his third season in his second stint with the Bears. He is currently in the last year of his three-year, $9 million-dollar contract.

Santos made 21 of his 23 field goal attempts last season but struggled with extra points, missing five of them. Prior to this season, he had only missed seven extra points over eight seasons. This performance raised some questions as to whether the Bears should start looking for another kicker. However, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower rejects the notion that Santos struggled last season.

“Cairo Santos finished, like, fifth in the NFL in (kicking) field goals,” Hightower said. “So, I mean, if you call that struggling, fifth in the NFL in field goals, I understand the extra point question. He fixed that toward the end. But, a lot of people would kill to have a top-five kicker.”

Still, some fans can’t help but think about the possibility of bringing the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Robbie Gould, back to Chicago, especially since he has been sitting as a free agent since March 4. Besides, the Bears have the cap money to do it.

Many people point to the statistics. Gould made 84.4% of his field goals last season, including both attempts from 50 or more yards. But Santos made 91.3% of his field goals, including four out of five from 50 or more yards. The key difference is the number of attempts. Because of the Bears’ lack of scoring, Santos had fewer attempts than Gould; however, Gould typically had shorter kicks, and his percentage is still lower than Santos.

The thing that could change things, particularly during the season, is consistency. Santos is not a consistent kicker, whereas Gould has consistently been a talented kicker and has always been reliable.

For Gould, though, he probably wants to go to a team where he would have a guarantee of being the starter, and that is just not the case in Chicago.

“Obviously I want to play closer to home, that’s one of the big things that’s meant a lot to me, and we’re filtering through those opportunities, and waiting for the right time to be able to do that,” Gould said, via “I’d love to win if possible, so I’m kind of being a little picky with that, but at 40 years old and playing 18 years in the league, I think I’ve earned the ability to do that.”

There is still a chance Santos is not the starter, though. Rookie kicker Andre Szmyt out of Syracuse and originally from Lake Forest, is in contention for the job. In his rookie season in college, he led all of college football in field goals made with 30. Extra points were never a problem for him as he has a 98% make percentage. He’s been a little inconsistent with making field goals, although he did put up 100 points last season.

“I think competition is always good. Having more than one leg in camp is always good. What I like about Andre the most is he’s a really, really good player,” Hightower argued. “He has the mental toughness and the fortitude to play that position, so it’s good working with him, just seeing him. Hopefully, we can help him develop and be a player and help him contribute to the team.”

Fans will have their first chance to see the kickers in action in the first preseason game on Saturday, August 12. The deadline for rosters to be trimmed from 80 to 53 players is Wednesday, August 30, so the decision on the starter will be made by that time. Until then, the Bears will have a kicker competition that would really be interesting if they did make a move for Gould at some point in the offseason.

“Competition brings the best in everybody,” Hightower explained. “So, really, if you’re a pro at what you do, it really shouldn’t change anything because you should be working like a pro every day. You should be competing against yourself; that’s what I tell them.”

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