Robbie Gould returning to the Chicago Bears to solve the very kicking problems that arose around the time he left is nothing short of a Hollywood ending. But just don’t think it’s going to come all that easy (if it’s going to at all).
In an appearance on the Mully and Haugh Show on WSCR 670-AM today, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said he was expecting Gould to return to the team for a third season and not leave as a free agent: “Any time you spend a lot of time somewhere, especially where your family’s from, that’s always going to mean a lot to you. It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Shanahan said in the radio interview. “I expect it. I also expect and am looking forward to having Robbie back in a Niners uniform next year.”
Every word was like a dagger to my hopes of Gould returning to Chicago.
The 49ers ultimately have the final word in where Gould will be kicking in 2019 and beyond. For one, San Francisco has exclusive negotiating rights until March 11, when teams are permitted to contact agents of players who will be unrestricted free agents. But more importantly, Gould’s fate could be decided before then, as the 49ers could apply the franchise or transition tag to retain their kicker’s services starting on February 19.
And even if San Francisco doesn’t do it immediately, the Niners have until a 3 p.m. CT deadline to designate a franchise or transition player.
Designating Gould as their franchise player would cost the 49ers approximately $4.939 million. A non-exclusive franchise tender would allow Gould to seek a contract elsewhere with the team that signs him away future picks, but an exclusive tag would eliminate that possibility. Using the transition tag comes at an estimated cost of $4.493 million. As we learned with the Kyle Fuller situation last year, that particular tag would allow for San Francisco to match any offer that comes Gould’s way.
Unlike the Bears, the 49ers have a ton of breathing room under the cap. San Francisco projects to have $60,656,788 in effective cap space, which means re-signing Gould by using the franchise or transition tag wouldn’t be a prohibitive move. And while it’s a lot of money, it would probably be considered a bargain for the 49ers to not stress out every time a kicker lines up for an attempt (something Bears fans haven’t been able to relate to for some time).