The Chicago Bears have several missions ahead of them, a crucial one being to get value on every dollar of the $100 million or so they will spend this coming year.
Some of that will be drafting the right player at, or near, the top of the draft. Some will be choosing the right free agents to whom the team will offer massive contracts. And some will be getting rid of bad money that is already on the roster.
It is hard to say that Chicago is spending a worse $4.5 million anywhere than the salary cap hit represented by kicker Cairo Santos in 2023. The Bears can save $3 million against the cap by parting ways Santos, who was arguably the worst volume kicker in the NFL last season.
As such, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus on Tuesday, February 14, named Santos the most likely cut candidate on the team’s roster this offseason.
Santos Losing Range, Posted Poor Numbers For Bears Last Season
Spielberger’s argument for moving on from Santos boils down to a horrendous 2022 for the kicker, per PFF’s analytics, as well as the fact that the aging specialist is losing range at a time when field goals are regularly being made from 60 yards and beyond.
A team is never going to pay a player more than their on-field production warrants, no matter their financial standing, but the Bears are devoid of talent and have a ton of cash/cap at their disposal — which, in theory, could protect some of the cheaper veterans on the roster.
That said, veteran kicker Cairo Santos missed five extra points and two field goals in 2022, earning him a 48.5 kicking grade that ranked dead last among 34 kickers with at least 10 attempts. Furthermore, while Santos has been quite accurate and consistent as a Bear, his range at this point is effectively 53 or so yards, with a handful of kickers across the NFL hitting from 10 yards beyond that. The Bears might as well get a jump start on looking into long-term, younger solutions at kicker for 2023.
Santos, who will be entering the 10th season of his NFL career next year, joined the Bears in 2020. He has missed eight field goals and seven extra point attempts during that span, per Pro Football Reference.
Bears Advised to Cut Lucas Patrick, Justin Jones This Offseason
A couple other prominent cut candidates in Chicago are offensive lineman Lucas Patrick and defensive tackle Justin Jones.
Patrick suffered through injury issues last year and could be a cap casualty because he represents $5.4 million in potential savings and the Bears are probably going to look for multiple upgrades along the offensive line.
Jones is also at risk because the defensive line will be a top priority in Chicago this offseason and parting ways with the tackle can save the Bears $7.4 million.