In what many describe as a shocking transaction, the Chicago Bears on Sunday released long-time kicker and all-time leading scorer Robbie Gould.
By: Peter Elliott – NFL, MLB, and NCAA writer – @PelliottSports
Following a lousy preseason performance in which Gould missed two of three extra point attempts and one field from the 40-49 yard range, the Bears decided to part ways with the 34-year-old kicker who has spent his entire ten-year career with Chicago thus far.
Many regard Gould as a top-tier kicker, but in recent years he’s shown a steady decline in production, making just 84.6% of his kicks last year, down from his best season in 2006, when he kicked for 143 points while going 32-for-36 and leading Chicago to their first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years.
General manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox met with Gould in person Sunday night to break the shocking news, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In his career, he made 276/323 field goals while on kickoff duties and extra points. His longest kick was from 58 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.
The release will save the Bears about $2.4M in salary cap, which could be helpful in signing recently added guard Josh Sitton.
Pace said the Bears did not attempt to trade Gould before cutting him.
“Every decision we make is about improving our team,” Pace commented. “These are all carefully discussed. These decisions never just happen on a whim. But when a player becomes available that we feel good about, we have to consider it. And ultimately then sometimes we have to make the hard decision.”
To replace Gould, the Bears inked former Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth.
“He’s an experienced kicker, he’s kicked in big games. If you look at, especially under 40 yards, he’s extremely accurate,” Pace said of Barth. “When we knew this guy would be available for us, it made the switch a possibility,”
Barth is 39-of-43 career from 30-39 yards with a career long of 57 yards, good for a 90.3 percentage. Gould is 90-for-101 in his career, an 89.1 percent mark.
John Fox, who coached Barth in Denver alongside current special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said, “He’s extremely accurate. We had him in Denver, brought him in in a similar situation. The key is, we call it points team, when you get those opportunities, you’ve got to get those points.”
It’s Barth’s eighth NFL Season, and he has a plethora of experience, especially in different environments, as he’s made stops in Kansas City, New Orleans, and most recently, Tampa Bay.
In other fourth down squad news, the Bears released long snapper Aaron Brewer to bring back Patrick Scales, who competed with Brewer throughout training camp. They also released OL Amini Silatolu to make room for Barth.