Robbie Gould has been the most accurate kicker in the NFL over the past two seasons. The 49ers standout made 72 of 75 attempts since joining the team in 2017, and now he’s headed for free agency.
The 49ers kicker appeared on 670 The Score in Chicago on Sunday and had plenty to say about hitting the open market and the chances of returning to the Bears, where he spent the first 11 years of his career.
“It’s really out of my control at this point” Gould told The Score. “I think I only have the exclusive rights to talk to the San Francisco 49ers right now. They’re the only team that can get a deal done with me before free agency.”
On Tuesday, NFL teams are allowed to begin using the franchise tag. Gould is the only player on the 49ers roster that makes sense. If tagged, he’d be due roughly $5,162,000 in 2019 — a significant raise after signing a two-year, $4 million deal two years ago. The 49ers have until March 5 to decide if they’ll be holding on to one of the league’s best kickers for one more year.
“Cody [Parkey]’s obviously the kicker for the Chicago Bears,” Gould said when asked if returning to Chicago was a possibility. “They have a lot of things they would have to do in order for it to work. And those are all things that you never know what’s going to happen, right?”
Parkey missed seven field goals in 2018 (23 of 30). His most infamous, now known as the “double doink”, hit the upright and cross bar before falling short with five seconds left in the Bears’ 16-15 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s safe to say Bears fans are ready to move on, and reuniting with Gould seems to be the prevailing hope.
Parkey has $3.5 million in guaranteed money for 2019 and would account for $5 million in dead money if he’s cut before June 1. The Bears currently have $7.3 million in projected salary cap space, per Over The Cap.
“You’re trying to make decisions that are best for the family,” Gould said. “You’re trying to make decisions that kind of fit where you want to go for the next part of your career.”
Gould’s wife and three children remained in Chicago during his two years in Santa Clara. They have resided there since 2005 and are currently building a new home in the area that Gould said will be completed in a couple months.
“My family is the most important thing. I have kids that are in school,” Gould said. “Obviously a long-term contract is something that I would like to have. What it comes down to, I want to win, right? I want to find the best place to give myself the opportunity to win a Super Bowl.”
The 49ers have only won 10 games during Gould’s two seasons with the team, most of which can largely be attributed to his efforts. General manager John Lynch said a new deal between Gould and the 49ers wasn’t imminent, but made it clear that he wanted to retain the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
“We’re hopeful to work things out with Robbie,” Lynch said. “And he’s kicked unbelievably for us. He’s been incredibly clutch for us. And we’d like to reward him for that.”
NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco reported Monday that the 49ers were expected to use the franchise tag to secure Gould’s services in 2019. It’s an avenue that wasn’t discussed at length in Gould’s interview with The Score, but it’s clear that a one-year, $5 million dollar contract isn’t what the veteran kicker is looking for. His roots are firmly established in Chicago, and the long-term deal he’s seeking would likely give him the stability and comfort needed to branch out from his home state.
Thankfully for Gould and the 49ers, the last six kickers to receive the franchise tag have all eventually received long-term deals with the tagging team, per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner. But until that becomes a reality, the prevailing winds for Gould seem to point East.
“Once a Bear, always a Bear.” Gould said to wrap up the interview.