So here we are on the eve The NFL Draft. Now I say eve because it starts tomorrow, but the Bears don’t draft until # 87 and that will be sometime on Friday. They pick late because they traded away several picks in acquiring the likes of Kalil Mack and several others. They have needs at running back, wide receiver and defensive back oh yeah and then there’s that kicker thing. Does double doink ring a ring a bell? That should be alarm bell! Well Brad Biggs had some interesting things to say about former Bear kicker Robbie Gould in this mornings Trib.
To ensure they wouldn’t miss out on the quarterback they viewed as the key to turning around the franchise, the Bears made a draft-night trade with the 49ers two years ago to select Mitch Trubisky. To ensure the kicking problems that have plagued them for three seasons — double doink, anyone? — are a thing of the past, the Bears could make another trade with the 49ers. Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould has requested a trade, according to ESPN, informing the 49ers that he will no longer negotiate a multiyear contract and that he is no lock to show up for the start of the regular season after the 49ers placed the franchise tag on him. Whether the 49ers will consider meeting Gould’s request and search for a trade partner remains to be seen. Not to minimize the significance of a kicker, even an elite one, but if general manager John Lynch acquiesces to a special teams player’s demands, who will he ever stand up to? Lynch said Monday that Gould will be a part of the team this season, and while the 49ers hold leverage, Gould is playing the one, sizable card he has by refusing to show up for the offseason program when the team is breaking in a new punter. Could the 49ers find a team willing to trade a draft pick and then sign Gould to one of the league’s richest contracts for a kicker? Maybe. It’s unknown whether the Bears, with three unproven options on the roster, would have interest in acquiring Gould, even though he has been nearly automatic since they surprisingly released him during final cuts in 2016. It’s clear Gould would welcome the opportunity to play for the Bears again. He lives in the area and brought his family to the playoff loss to the Eagles that ended when Cody Parkey’s 43-yard field-goal attempt was partially tipped at the line of scrimmage and then hit the left upright and crossbar. What can’t be overlooked is that performance could not have been the driving factor in the Bears’ original decision to cut Gould and replace him with Connor Barth. Gould didn’t have his best season in 2015, general manager Ryan Pace’s first with the Bears, but he made 33 of 39 field goals (84.6 percent), which at the time was right in line with his career average. Since then, Gould has made 82 of 85 field-goal attempts, raising his career mark to 87.7 percent, second to the Ravens’ Justin Tucker in NFL history. The reboot, which originally took Gould to the Giants before he signed with the 49ers in 2017, was the best thing that happened to him in the second half of his career, and he has said as much. Gould made 7 of 9 field goals from 50 or more yards in 2015, but in a 26-20 overtime loss to the 49ers in Week 13 at Soldier Field, he missed from 40 yards in the third quarter and from 36 yards with 2 seconds remaining in regulation. The next week he missed from 50 yards with 1:45 remaining in a 24-21 loss to the Redskins. He also missed two extra points in the preseason finale three days before he was cut, but the misses weren’t enough to be overly concerning for the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Late on the Sunday before the regular season, at the same time the Bears were finalizing a deal with former Packers guard Josh Sitton, they cut Gould even after paying him a $500,000 roster bonus at the start of that offseason. The problem runs deeper for the Bears than their failures and Gould’s excellence. Not only have the Bears struggled to make field goals the last three seasons — at 76 percent (57 of 75), only the Buccaneers (72.8 percent) have been worse — but opponents have made 93.6 percent of their field goals against the Bears. Pace, who finished his pre-draft media session Tuesday at Halas Hall minutes before the report about Gould’s new stance with the 49ers circulated, has pledged to leave no stone unturned in his search for a new kicker while the Bears pay Parkey $3.5 million this season. The Bears signed Redford Jones after he won a January tryout, Chris Blewitt after he won a March tryout and most recently Alliance of American Football veteran Elliott Fry. They’ve explored kickers for the draft. Earlier this month, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor went to Champaign to work out Illinois’ Chase McLaughlin, the Big Ten kicker of the year last fall. With the voluntary offseason program in progress, evaluations are ongoing. Pace has aggressively addressed nearly every area to restore the Bears into contenders. Bringing Gould back would provide a daily reminder of how Pace and his staff have gotten the kicker moves wrong at just about every turn. The answer to whether Gould can come home again probably lies in the explanation of why he had to go in the first place.