The Bears on Monday signed Robbie Gould to the most lucrative contract for a kicker in NFL history according to his agent, Brian Mackler.
The five-year, $15 million contract extension – including incentives – exceeds the five-year, $14.2 million deal that Josh Brown signed with the Rams two months ago and includes a slightly higher signing bonus ($4.2 million) than the $4 million the St. Louis kicker received.
"It was an offer I couldn't pass up," said the 26-year-old Gould. "It's the right contract. It's fair for both sides. It's a win-win situation. Josh Brown's contract helped a great deal by setting the standard and some parameters. I'm very happy he got his done. It helped me."
Gould, who is entering the final year of his original contract at a base pay of $520,000, is now signed through 2013. He is the Bears' all-time field goal percentage leader among kickers with at least 50 attempts, connecting on 84.8 percent of his kicks (84 of 99). He has also been successful on 99 of 100 extra-point conversions.
Gould is, thus far, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, although he needs 100 field-goal attempts to officially qualify among the leaders. If he makes his first kick in 2008, he will be the third-most accurate kicker in league history.
"One thing I've always tried to do is be consistent," he said. "The only way I could keep a job here is by being consistent."
K Robbie Gould
Rusty Kennedy/AP Images
Gould says the money won't change him as a player.
"Every year I want to be the best kicker in the NFL, and this won't stop me from working to do that," Gould said. "It won't stop me from being a competitor. I want to continue to be more consistent on field goals and get my kickoffs longer. I want to make every field goal. I want to let my teammates know they can count on me."
Gould owns Bears records with 26 straight field goals from Dec. 25, 2005-Nov. 19, 2006 and 22 straight games with a field goal from Oct. 23, 2005-Nov. 6, 2006. Last season, he hit 31 of 36 field goal attempts (86.1 percent). A year earlier, he was voted to the Pro Bowl and named a first-team All-Pro after finishing second in the NFL in scoring and first among kickers with 143 points, converting 32 of 36 (88.9 percent) field goal goal attempts and all 47 PATs.
In the sometimes-inclement Chicago weather, Gould has converted 39 of 45 FG attempts (86.7 percent), the highest accuracy all-time among NFL kickers with at least 20 attempts at the stadium. Gould has hit five game-winning field goals, including a 49-yarder in overtime of the 2006 NFC divisional playoff against the Seahawks.
The 6-0, 183-pounder was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2005 but released. He then spent time with the Ravens, where he was also released. In an October tryout with the Bears later that season, Gould outperformed several contenders and went on to hit 21 of 27 FG attempts as a rookie. When he was summoned for the Bears tryout, Gould was working as a laborer for a construction company owned by a family friend near his home in Pennsylvania.
"It was supposed to be a week-to-week deal," Gould said, "and now it's turned out to be a long-term thing."
Several of Gould's teammates are still hoping for new deals or extensions from the Bears, including Pro Bowlers Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester.
"As for other players, I don't know their situations," Gould said. "I can't worry about my teammates. There's a pecking order. If I didn't get this done this year, maybe I'd have to wait until next year. But eventually I knew someone's going to pay me."
NEWS & NOTESFifth-round tight end Kellen Davis arrived from Michigan State with some questions about his work ethic that caused him to slip in the draft, along with an aggravated assault charge stemming from a fight at an off-campus party 19 months ago. But the Bears were convinced he was worth the 158th-overall pick. So far he hasn't disappointed them, and head coach Lovie Smith said he isn't worried about the character concerns.
"Kellen Davis has been good two days in a row," Smith said at the end of the rookie minicamp in early May. "We wouldn't bring any guys in unless we felt good about them being a good part and a big part of our team, fitting in and all that. We haven't seen any [problems]."
The 6-7, 262-pound Davis is a virtual lock to replace free-agency loss John Gilmore as the No. 3 tight end, as long as he shows more willingness to use his excellent size and athleticism as a blocker than he did in college.
Third-round wide receiver Earl Bennett had an inconsistent first practice at rookie minicamp, showing soft hands on some catches but dropping at least a couple easy ones.
WR Earl Bennett
Warren Wimmer Photography
"When I first came out, I was a little nervous, jittery," said the all-time leading receiver in the Southeastern Conference. "I'm playing at the biggest stage right now, my first practice. But overall, I think I came out and did OK. Any time a ball hits my hands, I consider it a drop. So I dropped a couple. But I'll just try to make it up and catch the next ball that comes to me."
Smith said he expected some nervousness from all the rookies.
"They know that this is the most important job interview they've ever had," he said, "and they know what's at stake."
Southern Illinois quarterback Nick Hill was one of 10 undrafted free agents at the Bears' rookie minicamp, and he came in with impressive stats, but the other undrafted free-agent quarterback, Colorado State's Caleb Hanie, threw the ball more accurately than Hill.
Still, the SIU lefty had his moments.
"He looked smooth," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "We sent him some stuff earlier in the week, and it was evident that he studied it, that he got into the playbook a little bit. He had a pretty good grasp of stuff."
With only Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton returning at quarterback, the Bears are looking to add at least one more to the final roster and maybe another to the practice squad.
Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison was a third-round draft pick, just like center Olin Kreutz and linebacker Lance Briggs, who have nine Pro Bowl appearances between them.
"It doesn't matter where you're drafted," said Harrison, whose mother, Michelle Harrison, is from Chicago. "It just matters what you do when you get out there."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"He has excellent speed. He has good size. He can make you miss. All the things you look for in a good running back, he has." – Head coach Lovie Smith on rookie running back Matt Forte
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