After the Bears crossed midfield with running back Tarik Cohen’s 17-yard run on the opening drive against the Falcons in Week 3, the offense came to a halt.
In came kicker Cairo Santos to potentially put the Bears on the scoreboard with a 46-yard field goal. The snap was clean. Santos’ kick had the distance. But he pulled it to the left. The Bears came up empty on their first possession.
Since that moment, Santos went on to make 27 straight field goals — breaking Robbie Gould’s franchise record. He also made his only attempt in the wild-card loss to the Saints.
The Bears have a laundry list of glaring needs that need to be addressed this season. To ensure that list doesn’t get any longer, the Bears should look to re-sign Santos, which would provide stability at the kicker position.
For kickers that attempted more than three field-goal attempts, Santos finished fifth in the league in field-goal percentage. His 30 field goals made were also the seventh most last season.
Santos signed a one-year, $910,000 contract with the Bears last season. Chicago would be Santos’ fourth team in the last three years and his second time with the Bears. While he was in Kansas City, he never quite recovered from a groin injury, so the organization was forced to move on. In his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Santos was 86-for-102 on field-goal attempts.
The 29-year-old field goal kicker was brought in to compete with Eddy Pineiro, who ended his 2019 campaign making his last 11 field goals (including all four in the season finale against the Vikings). However, Pineiro battled a groin injury for the majority of training camp, giving Santos an opportunity to take the starting job for good.
So, what could a potential extension for Santos look like? Here are a few kickers who have been re-signed recently.
- Miami Dolphins Jason Sanders (26 years old) — signed a five-year, $22 million extension with $7.52 million guaranteed on Feb. 16, 2021.
- New York Giants Graham Gano (33 years old) — signed a three-year, $14 million extension with $9.5 million guaranteed on Nov. 15, 2020.
- Kansas City Chiefs Harrison Butker (25 years old) — signed a five-year, $20.3 million extension with $9.1 million guaranteed on June 13, 2019.
- Denver Broncos Brandon McManus (29 years old) — signed a four-year, $17.2 million extension with $9.5 million guaranteed on Sept. 14, 2020.
Santos could potentially sign an extension that looks similar to the ones above. But according to Pro Football Focus salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger, Santos’ deal may look a little different.
“After battling a lingering groin injury that eventually required surgery, Santos was one of the top kickers in the NFL in 2020, and will be just 30 years old next season — a relatively young age at the position,” Spielberger told The Game Haus. “He’s proven he can make kicks specifically in Soldier Field too, which is a different beast than most stadiums, and surely provides an added layer of comfort for the Bears organization.
A kicker deal can materialize quickly on small sample sizes, like we saw in New York with Graham Gano. A similar deal for Santos certainly seems possible, but given the injury history perhaps a bit lower. Projection: Four-years, $17-$18 million ($4.25-$4.5M APY), with roughly half of that in total guarantees (~$9M).”
At the moment, the Bears could be focusing on who will play quarterback next season or how they will try retaining star wide receiver Allen Robinson. Both are valid concerns.
But re-signing Santos — arguably the most consistent member of the Bears last season — should be somewhere on the to-do list.
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