Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Chicago Bears were signing defensive lineman Mario Edwards. The move was a sensible one, seeing that the team needed to add depth to a group after Eddie Goldman opted out of playing in 2020 due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. But in order to fit Edwards on the roster, the Bears needed to make a corresponding move.
Unfortunately, that move comes at the expense of an injured kicker.
Earlier today, the Chicago Bears announced that Eddy Piñeiro has been placed on injured reserve. That transaction allows the Bears to make the Edwards signing officially official, adding him to the 53-man roster in the process. Meanwhile, the Bears’ kicking situation just got a bit murky(-er).
For what it’s worth, Piñeiro’s move to IR isn’t permanent. And because of a rule tweak for 2020, players can return from injured reserve after missing three games. In other words, Piñeiro could be kicking in a game again as early as Week 4’s game at Soldier Field against the Indianapolis Colts. But in the meantime, it will be Cairo Santos kicking for Chicago to open the season.
Technically, Santos doesn’t have to be on the active 53-man roster to kick with the team. As part of the newly minted Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL teams can activate up to two practice squad players each game. Essentially, this caveat increases rosters from 53 to 55. It’s a nice touch, especially with increased practice squad rosters that have expanded provisions to allowed more players with more than three accrued seasons to be available. As it pertains to the Bears, this allows them to roster Santos while Piñeiro is on injured reserve while not burning two precious roster spots on kickers.
As for Santos as a kicking option, I have my concerns. Sure, he hit nearly 85 percent of his kicks when he was on the Chiefs between 2014-17. HOWEVER, Santos has made just 66.7 percent of his kicks in 14 games with the Rams, Titans, and Buccaneers since the start of the 2018 season. That’s not good.
Santos played two games with the Bears in 2017, making 1 of 2 field goals. His time in Chicago was cut short due to an injury that landed him on season-ending IR. Clearly, the front office (and head coach) like something Santos brings to the table. But recent trends are troubling enough for me to think they should have contingency plans for their contingency plan.