The date Oct. 8, 2005, didn’t have the feeling that it would be an historic day for the Chicago Bears, but upon further reflection, it has turned into that.
That’s because on this date, the Bears signed kicker Robbie Gould, who at the time was working at a construction job in his home state of Pennsylvania following brief preseason stints with the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. He hadn’t exactly lit the world on fire during his college days, only making 16 out of 29 field goal attempts during his junior and senior years at Penn State University, but even still, the Bears took a chance on him when Doug Brien went down with an injury in Week 3 of the 2005 season.
Gould ended up with a solid season for the Bears that year, making 21 out of 27 field goals and going 19-of-20 in extra points, but that was just the beginning. Since then, Gould has gone on to be one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, making 216 of his 251 field goal attempts, good for an 86.1 percent success rate. That is the third highest in NFL history, behind only Mike Vanderjagt and Nate Kaeding.
Gould also has gone from being a kicker who could only thrive on shorter kicks to a guy who can knock them through the uprights anywhere on the field. He didn’t make a single field goal of 50 yards or more until the 2009 season, when he set a new career high of 52 yards. Since then, his career high kick has gone up nearly every year, including this season when he booted a 58-yarder against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, his eleventh straight 50-yard plus kick without a miss.
Obviously, Gould holds a special place in Bears lore with his seemingly out-of-nowhere story, but the end of the line could be nearing for the veteran kicker. His contract, which at the time made him the highest paid kicker in the league (he is now fourth), will expire at the end of the season, and with the salary cap pinch that the Bears will be experiencing at the conclusion of the campaign, it is a definite possibility that they could let Gould walk as a free agent.
In fact, Gould even said before the season started that he felt that he had all the power in the upcoming contract negotiations with the team. “I’m not too worried about it if they will re-sign me or not because I have all the leverage,” he said. “If they don’t want to re-sign me now it’s going to cost them double at the end of the year.”
Gould did end up backtracking from that statement, made on the first day of training camp in Bourbonnais, saying that he “wanted to be a Bear for life” and that he was only explaining the thought process players go through during contract negotiations.
Even still, his comments do remind fans that the Bears have a ton of free agents, like Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman, Major Wright, and Corey Wootton, and that there will have to be some tough decisions made, and Gould’s eighth anniversary with the Bears could be his last.