Ten Most Important Bears Players: Cairo Santos
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Ten Most Important Bears Players: Cairo Santos

by - Senior Writer -

It's not too often you stumble upon a hall-of-fame kicker and manage to hold on to them for over a decade. That is what the Bears had when Robbie Gould was part of this franchise, and he will be a Hall of Famer once his name comes on the ballot. However, all good things must come to an end, and eventually, Gould's time in Chicago came to an end as he moved on from the Beras to join the San Francisco 49ers.

In the process of losing him, the Bears struggled to find a kicker to even come close to what he can offer and even saw a kicker named Cody Parkey kick them out of the playoffs with his infamous double-doink. That moment made the fans appreciate the work Gould did even more than ever as special teams are often the game's most overlooked part. That is different in Chicago as one of their top players for 2024 is indeed a special teamer in K Cairo Santos.

For an offense that has struggled to score touchdowns for the better part of three seasons, the 11-year veteran Santos has proven to be an invaluable player on this roster, where he has been one of the league's most accurate kickers across the past four seasons. Not known for a massive leg, Santos is as close to automatic as you can get inside 50 yards where he has made more than 90% of his kicks since joining Chicago.

If you're not going to get into the endzone, you better have someone who can get points for you in other ways, and Santos has been that guy since 2021. Looking back at last season, which was the final year of his contract before signing an extension this offseason, Santos made 35-38 field goals (92.1%), which helped him earn a 500K bonus for making more than 90% of his kicks.

To go with that, Santos showed off a much bigger leg than he has in the past, going 7-of-8 (88%) 50+ yard FGs and 31-of-33 (93.9%) XPs. He is the reason the Bears were in a lot of games late, as he often bailed out the offense when they couldn't get the job done. Santos was the best kicker in the league during the month of November, earning the Special Teams player of the month award.

During that span, Santos led the NFL in field goals made (12), field goals attempted (14) and points (41). He also was a perfect 3-of-3 from 50-plus yards. For an offense that struggled to put points on the board from one drive to the next, Santos was arguably the most valuable player on offense for this team a season ago as he bailed them out when most drives stalled to finish the season with 138 points. That ranked fifth in the NFL, but the kickers ahead of him were all in playoff contention and had offenses that put themselves in a position to score more frequently.

As accurate as Gould was throughout his career, not many people realize that Santos is not only the most accurate kicker in Bears history, but he also holds the longest consecutive made kicks streak for FGs under 40 yards, which stands at 40 straight made kicks from that distance. That is the third longest streak in NFL history and was the main reason why the Bears locked him down for another three years prior to the end of last season.

Of all the positions on this team, Santos is one of the few players with no competition, and you can make the case that he is once again one of the most important pieces. The only thing left to figure out is whether or not he or rookie punter Tory Taylor will be handling the kickoff duties this season. It wouldn't be the first time the Bears have had a punter handle kickoffs, and with a leg as big as Taylor, that is an option.

Regardless, Santos knows his role on this team and his job. As long as his production doesn't take a turn for the worse or his accuracy starts to fall off, Santos is going to play a massive role for the Bears once again in 2024.

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