Watching another squad’s special teams foibles really puts things into perspective.
I felt a newfound appreciation for long-snapper Patrick Scales, punter/holder Patrick O’Donnell, and kicker Cairo Santos last night. That’s because I found myself watching Michael Badgley miss two important kicks on Thursday Night Football. Then I witnessed the Raiders’ long-snapper and holder have issues late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s wildly entertaining Raiders-Chargers game. Again, perspective is a good thing.
Which brings me to this: The Bears don’t have any of their kicking-game specialists under contract beyond this season. And if they were to start addressing those future needs, they should start with Santos.
For what it’s worth, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune opines Eddy Piñeiro “likely isn’t the future for the Bears.” Then again, Biggs hedges by adding “and neither is Santos unless the Bears can extend him.” Sigh. It’s always something with the kicking game, isn’t it? Whatever. I’ve got a solution to a problem that isn’t on the Bears’ doorstep just yet.
OverTheCap.com has Santos’ 2020 deal coming with a $910,000 base salary. That ranks 24th among the 49 kickers accounted for around the league. Chicago will need to up the ante in order to keep Santos. Let’s face it. There aren’t 32 good kickers in the NFL at any given time. So when your team has one of them, it should do what it can to keep him around. But what does an extension even look like?
In 2019, Jason Myers, 28, signed a four-year, $15.45 million deal with the Seahawks. It included $5.5 million guaranteed at signing and $7 million in full guarantees. That might seem like a hefty salary. And you might be a little trigger shy after Cody Parkey was the last Bears kicker who signed a multi-year deal. But two things come to mind. For starters, Seattle can get out of Myers’ deal as soon as this offseason in a move that would create $2.35 million in cap savings at the cost of just $2 million in dead money. Secondly, the yearly cap percentages of Myers’ deal are 1.3%, 1.8%, 2.4%, and 2.2%. In other words, it’s not as if his contract is a handcuff that prohibits the Seahawks from doing other business. And finally, Myers’ current deal ranks him as the 11th-highest-paid kicker. Altogether, paying a good kicker isn’t all that scary.
Should the Bears want to extend Santos, I’d look at the Myers contract as a baseline for something that should appease both sides.
The kicking game has been a bugaboo for the Bears since they let Robbie Gould go. And while things have gotten better since jettisoning Cody Parkey, Santos has made a play to keep the gig he’s been running away with for 10+ weeks. Santos has made 18 consecutive field goals after missing his last kick of Week 2 and first attempt in Week 3.
Overall, Santos has made 91.3 percent of his field goals (21 of 23) and has missed just one PAT (it was blocked after a blown blocking assignment). So while Piñeiro wasn’t bad in 2019, Santos’ excellence has us thinking about a kicking conundrum that doesn’t give us immediate heartburn. That’s … different. But in order to avoid kicker-related offseason stress, they should probably get to work on a Santos extension.