It’s not officially roster cut-down day for the Bears unless there’s a kicking conundrum.
Earlier, Brad Biggs of the Tribune tweeted the Bears informed kicker Cairo Santos he was being released. That’s not a shocker of a roster move. I didn’t expect Chicago to carry two kickers on its active roster. However, I presumed one would make for a stash candidate for the practice squad.
However, there might be more to the Santos cut than a simple formality before moving him to the taxi squad. Because, as a free agent, Santos can sign with anyone right now. If he does so, that would leave the Bears searching for another option. And considering Eddy Piñeiro’s troublesome groin, the Bears should probably be on high alert for possible options.
That’s because Biggs reports it is unlikely that Piñeiro will be ready to play in Week 1. This news comes as it turns out that Piñeiro’s injury has kept him from kicking field goals in practice sessions that open to the media. Piñeiro had a groin issue that slowed him down last year, too. So this is certainly a notable injury. Depending on how long the injury lingers, the Bears could place Piñeiro on injured reserve. HOWEVER, they can’t do that until Monday. This leaves the Santos backup plan in limbo, as he would have to wait out Piñeiro’s move to injured reserve before re-signing with the team.
It is possible for the Bears to go another route should Piñeiro be deemed not ready to play in Week 1. Stephen Hauschka, Greg Joseph, and Matt Gay are among the kickers currently available who have pro experience.
Hauschka is the most experienced of the bunch with 165 games under his belt. But he has made just 78.6 percent of his kicks over the last two years. Even still … Hauschka is a career 85.7 percent kicker. Joseph nailed all nine of his extra-point tries during his seven-game run with the titans. And while he was with the Browns as a rookie in 2018, he made 17 of 20 kicks — which is good enough for a respectable 85 percent success rate. Gay was arguably the best kicking prospect available in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he was shaky as a rookie with the Buccaneers. Gay made just 77.1 percent of his field goals and connected on fewer than 90 percent of his PATs. However, Gay nailed 5 of 8 field goals from 50+ yards.
Bears kicker drama is a tradition unlike any other. And with that in mind, we’ll watch it closely.