CHICAGO — Former Bears kicker Kevin Butler has some advice for Robbie Gould, who last week told ESPN that he ended long-term contract negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers, has not signed his franchise tag tender and has requested to be traded.
Butler’s advice: Be wary of a return to Chicago.
“I’ve always said it to Robbie, be careful what you wish for sometimes, because it’s not easy to kick in Chicago,” Butler said on ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy Show on Tuesday. “It’s certainly not easy to kick in San Francisco, but he’s found a situation out there where he’s been as good as there is. Can you duplicate that by coming back to Chicago? I don’t know. … It’s a scary thing to mess with your legacy.”
Butler, who won a Super Bowl with the Bears, held the team’s all-time scoring record until Gould (1,207 career points) surpassed him in 2015.
Gould joined the Bears during the 2005 and quickly established himself as one of the league’s most accurate kickers. Over 11 seasons in Chicago, Gould converted 276 of 323 field goal attempts (85.4 percent), 379 of 383 extra points (98.9 percent) and was named first-team All-Pro when the Bears reached the Super Bowl in 2006.
But Gould’s production dipped in 2015, and the Bears released him late the next summer. Since leaving Chicago, Gould has converted 82 of 85 field goal attempts while a member of the New York Giants and 49ers. Last year, Gould hit 33 of 34 field goals (97.1 percent) for San Francisco, who applied the franchise tag to Gould after the two sides were unable to reach a long-term deal.
“The bottom line is, I’m unsure if I want to play there anymore,” the 36-year-old Gould told ESPN last week. “At this point, I have to do what’s best for me and my family back home.”
Gould has not signed his franchise tag tender for $4.971 million, and he informed the 49ers he will not report before the regular-season opener on Sept. 8.
Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who is seven years younger than Gould, recently signed an extension that included a $12.5 million total guarantee. Veteran Stephen Gostkowski, 35, re-upped with the New England Patriots on a two-year deal worth $5.5 million guaranteed.
Last offseason, Chicago guaranteed $9 million to kicker Cody Parker, who the Bears cut after one disappointing season that culminated with the infamous “double doink” 43-yard missed field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles that cost the Bears a playoff victory.
The Bears are still reeling from Gould’s departure prior to the 2016 season. Unable to stabilize the position, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said following the draft that Chicago will have four kickers under contract by the time rookie minicamp opens Friday. Several additional kickers are also expected to attend the rookie camp on a tryout basis.
“The obvious question is why don’t the Bears try and bring Robbie back,” Butler said. “Well, Robbie had tremendous success, better than any kicker in Chicago, and he’s gone on and done it even better after he left the Bears. If you’re looking for the rah-rah, team-team thing, remember, they’ll cut your ass just as quick as anything in the NFL.
“It’s not like you’re going to get back there in Chicago and you’ll be hugging all these guys. … You still have to perform. He’s performing at a level that he’s never done before. It’s broke in Chicago and they need to fix it. Robbie is certainly not broke in San Francisco.”
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