NFL

Bears agree to contract extension with kicker Gould

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The Canadian Press
12/27/2013 4:06:41 PM
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Robbie Gould saw no reason to shop around.

The Chicago Bears announced a four-year extension with Gould on Friday, locking in one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history through the 2017 season.

A person familiar with the situation said the deal is worth $15 million and includes more than $9 million in guaranteed money. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because financial terms were not announced. ESPN first reported the terms.

"At the end of the day I couldn't see myself playing in another jersey," Gould said. "I'd just look funny in another colour I think."

Gould has converted 86 per cent of his attempts in nine seasons and ranks as the third most accurate kicker in NFL history behind Mike Vanderjagt (86.5 per cent) and Nate Kaeding (86.2 per cent). He has hit 26 of 29 field goals this season, including a franchise record 58-yarder against Cincinnati in the opener.

He has 11 game-winning field goals in his career. With 1,021 points, Gould is closing in on Kevin Butler's team record (1,116)

"I thought it was important that I remain a Bear," Gould said. "I think it means a lot for my career. I think it means a lot to be able to do some things down the road individually but also I think if I'm going to hold a trophy up, I want to hold it up with the Chicago Bears."

The deal comes as the NFC North-leading Bears prepare for an all-or-nothing finale against the rival Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday. The winner captures the division title and advances to the playoffs. A tie would also do the job for the Bears (8-7).

Gould was one of many Chicago players with expiring contracts, including quarterback Jay Cutler, return specialist Devin Hester and cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.

"You've got guys that are up that if the deal we've struck gives a little extra money to keep guys around, then I'm all for it," he said. "At the end of the day, all I want to do is win a championship. Hopefully we can start by doing it this weekend."

The deal was a bit of a surprise considering general manager Phil Emery said at the start of training camp he didn't see the Bears extending any contracts during the season because they were up against the cap. He also wanted the focus to be on the field and not the negotiating table.

That announcement did not sit well with Gould, who was critical at the time. But any hurt feelings were soothed. He and Emery were on the same page in one key area, though.

"I think we both agreed on what our vision was," Emery said. "And our vision was that together, some day we would hugging one another and had a big smile on our face and holding up that championship trophy. So the extension of Robbie Gould gives that some legs now and into the future and am very happy to announce that."

With the season winding down, Emery said there was some money available to extend a contract.

"We didn't use all the remaining emergency fund that we had," Emery said. "We were very open the last couple weeks of internally discussing the possibility of signing at least one player if we could find somebody that would fit into that equation. We were not aggressive in terms of our pursuit of those players."

Gould's agent, Brian Mackler, contacted the Bears this week, and they reached an agreement over the next few days. There still will be plenty of issues for the Bears to address after the season, given all their expiring contracts and problems on defence, but one task is out of the way.

A "negotiation can go as fast as you want it to go," Gould said. "It's all about, can you get on the same page, do they have the same value or number in mind that you have. I think, realistically, it was probably the easiest negotiation I've ever been a part of. I appreciate the Bears that they think that highly of me to get something done before the end of the season."

Note: WR Earl Bennett remained away from the team tending to a family matter in Texas and is questionable for Sunday's game. LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), the only other Bears player on the injury report, is listed as probable.

Robbie Gould (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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