While fans continue to wait breathlessly for huge quarterback news, the Chicago Bears announced that they rewarded kicker Cairo Santos‘ historic season by signing him to a new contract.
The Chicago Bears made a big announcement. No, they didn’t announce a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. The team announced that they rewarded kicker Cairo Santos’ superb 2020 season by signing him to a new contract. The deal was a five-year, $17.5 million. For those of you who think that is way too much money for a team that’s currently in salary cap hell, the final two seasons are voidable, so it is essentially a three-year, $9 million. With incentives, Santos can earn up to $11 million.
Santos earned that new contract. He connected on 93.75 percent of his field goal attempts (30 of his 32 attempts). He also converted 36 of his 37 attempted extra points. The field goal percentage was the highest by a Chicago Bears kicker in franchise history.
Hopefully, this ends the Bears’ kicker carousel. Since they cut Robbie Gould in 2015 after 11 years in Chicago, the team has had a number of kickers. The list includes Connor Barth, Mike Nugent, Cody Parker (ugh!), and Eddy Pineiro. Santos himself made two appearances. He was on the roster in 2017 but after two games he was injured and then waived. He came back last offseason when Pineiro suffered an injury. Santos did so well Pineiro never saw any action on the field.
Santos was an undrafted rookie free agent who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. He played for three-plus seasons until he got hurt in 2017. After the Chiefs cut him he spent the next three seasons bouncing around the league, playing for the Bears, the Los Angeles Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Tennessee Titans.
With the new deal, Santos now has a place to call home for some time, and the Bears have a kicker they depend on. In 2019, they had a small village of kickers vying for the starting job. Pineiro ultimately won the job but he had his shaky moments during the season. Santos, on the other hand, was almost automatic. He started out hitting four of his first six attempts before making 26 consecutive field goal attempts. That total is also a Bears franchise record.
General manager Ryan Pace is in desperation mode. Team owner George McCaskey retained him despite many people calling for his dismissal. With one more chance at turning the Bears into a winning team, Pace has to do whatever it takes to improve the roster. Solidifying the kicker is a good move. Now, if he can finally swing a deal for that quarterback, things will get very exciting.