One of the greatest placekickers in the history of the Chicago Bears has made it perfectly clear he would welcome a reunion with his former team in 2023.
Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould recently shared in an ESPN interview that he would have a strong desire to return to Chicago and once again play for the Bears if general manager Ryan Poles and his new regime called and offered him a job. The 40-year-old has spent the past six seasons in San Francisco, but he is currently an unrestricted free agent and — according to NBC Sports — intends to play elsewhere in 2023.
“If Chicago called me and said, ‘We want you back,’ would I do it? Absolutely,” Gould said during his March 24 appearance on ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy show.
He later reiterated: “Yeah, I would love to come back and play for Chicago for sure.”
Robbie Gould Still Bears’ All-Time Leading Scorer
Gould might be nearing the end of his career as an NFL kicker, but he has done enough to warrant considerations from the Bears if they are seeking a new starter for the 2023 season. Gould is still the franchise’s all-time leading scorer after putting up 1,207 points over the course of his 11 years in Chicago. He also holds seven other franchise records, including for career field-goal makes (276), career field goals from 50 or more yards (20) and career field-goal percentage (85.4%).
Gould hasn’t really lost his touch in the seven seasons since he left Chicago, either. He has made 161 of 184 field-goal (87.5%) attempts over his 90 games with the 49ers and has been near-perfect — 221 of 230 — on extra points. The only real knock against him is his overall availability after he missed four games in 2021, one game in 2020 and three games in 2019. Then again, he didn’t miss a single one of his 17 starts in 2022 for the 49ers while also hitting both of his field-goal tries from beyond 50 yards.
Forty years old is too old for some kickers, but not for Robbie.
Would Bears Be Willing to Ditch Cairo Santos?
One problem with Gould’s desired reunion with the Bears is that Chicago currently has a starting placekicker under contract in Cairo Santos. The 31-year-old has booted through 77 of his 85 field-goal attempts (90.6%) over his three seasons as the Bears’ starter and remains under contract for the 2023 season. He also holds a few of his own franchise records, most impressively for the most consecutive field-goal makes (40).
That said, the Bears would save money if they elected to move on from Santos this offseason. According to Over the Cap, they could save $4 million against the cap in 2023 and be left with a dead-cap hit of just $500,000 if they opted to release Santos with a post-June 1 designation. The move would still leave them with two more years of $500,000 cap hits due to the void-year structure of his deal, but it would create a good chunk of immediate savings in a pinch should the Bears need it.
Of course, if the Bears are looking to make a change at kicker, it seems unlikely they would seek out someone who is nine years older than their current kicker. Nostalgia aside, Poles would probably want to find a younger kicker who might be able to grow into a foundational piece — like Gould once did — than roll the dice on an old flame.