Lions News: Big-Legged Kicker Signing With Detroit Instead of Packers

Jake Bates

Getty ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Detroit Lions will sign UFL kicker Jake Bates to a two-year contract.

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions in the teams’ latest rival matchup on Thanksgiving. But the Lions have beat the Packers in the Jake Bates sweepstakes.

On June 15, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Lions will sign Bates to a two-year deal. Bates showed off a tremendously strong leg for the Michigan Panthers in the UFL this past season.

Bates received interest from the Lions, Packers and Washington Commanders.

“UFL kicker Jakes Bates is signing a two-year deal this week with the Detroit Lions, per his agent Marty Magid,” Schefter wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Bates visited the Lions, Packers and Commanders and opted to stay in Michigan, where he kicked in the UFL. His longest field goal this season was from 64 yards.”

Bates only made 77.3% of his field goals during the 2024 UFL season, but four of his five misses were from 50 yards or farther. Bates made 11 out of 12 attempts inside of 50 yards.

From beyond 49 yards, he connected on 6 of 10 field-goal tries. One of his makes included a game-winning 64-yarder.

Bates should feel right at home kicking for the Lions. The UFL’s Panthers play their home games at the Lions’ home stadium — Ford Field — in downtown Detroit.

Lions Sign Jake Bates Away From the Packers

KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reported on June 14 that the Lions were expected to sign Bates. Schefter confirmed a deal between the Lions and Bates will be completed on June 18.

Tuesday, June 18 is the first day UFL players can officially sign with NFL teams.

Bates received a taste of the NFL last summer when he spent training camp as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans. The Texans released Bates on August 12, 2023.

Bates kicked in college at Texas State and Arkansas. But interestingly, he never kicked field goals at either school. He served as a kickoff specialist for both programs. With Arkansas, Bates made first-team All-SEC while leading the conference with 64.47 yards per kickoff in 2022.

He also led the FBS in touchback percentage that season.

From 2018-19, Bates played college soccer at Central Arkansas.

Bates Becomes Third Kicker on Lions Roster

With his two-year contract, Bates will become part of what looks like will be a three-kicker competition with the Lions this summer. Detroit also has veteran Michael Badgley and undrafted free agent former Michigan kicker James Turner on the 90-man roster.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on February 22 that the Lions signed Badgley to a 1-year contract. Badgley finished the 2023 season as Detroit’s primary place-kicker.

Although he went 7-for-7 on field-goal attempts in six games with the Lions, including the playoffs, Detroit is still pushing Badgley in competition likely because he hasn’t featured the strongest leg throughout his career.

The Lions passed on long field-goal tries during the second half of the NFC championship game and went for two fourth-and-shorts with Badgley as their kicker. Detroit failed to convert those fourth-down tries, which helped the San Francisco 49ers erase a 17-point halftime deficit.

Badgley is 5-for-13 in his career on attempts from 50 yards or farther.

Turner kicked four seasons at Louisville before ending his college career at Michigan. He made 79.7% of his field goals and 97.6% of his extra-points at Louisville.

With the Wolverines, Turner set a new program record with 119 points scored.

But if leg strength is the significant factor in Detroit’s kicker competition, Bates will have an advantage. Turner’s longest successful field goal in college was 50 yards.

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