Fri Feb 22 6:29pm ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
In this Dec. 16, 2018, file photo, San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould speaks at a news conference after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Chicago Bears would like to upgrade at kicker and Robbie Gould figures to hit the free agent market. The idea of bringing back the franchise's all-time scoring leader sure is a tantalizing one for Chicago fans, particularly in the wake of Cody Parkey's struggles. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
In this Jan. 3, 2016, file photo, then-Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) watches his field goal against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game, in Chicago. The Chicago Bears would like to upgrade at kicker and Robbie Gould figures to hit the free agent market. The idea of bringing back the franchise's all-time scoring leader sure is a tantalizing one for Chicago fans, particularly in the wake of Cody Parkey's struggles. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes, File)
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) As the ball hit the upright and crossbar, Robbie Gould could imagine how Cody Parkey felt. The Chicago Bears' breakthrough season came to a crushing conclusion, particularly for their embattled kicker.
''I've been there,'' he said. ''I've missed game-winning kicks, too.''
Gould was there, watching from a suite at Soldier Field with his wife and three young sons as Parkey's 43-yard attempt in the closing seconds of a 16-15 wild-card loss to defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia hit the left upright and then the crossbar. That the ball was touched by the Eagles' Treyvon Hester was of little consolation. And knowing that Gould was in the building but not in uniform made it sting that much more for Chicago.
With the Bears looking for an upgrade at kicker and their all-time leading scorer scheduled to become a free agent on March 13, the million dollar - or multimillion dollar - question is whether a return to Chicago is imminent.
''The McCaskey family (owners) changed my family's life,'' Gould said. ''They gave us a lot of great opportunities in one of the greatest sports cities you'll ever find. I'm thankful that they gave me that opportunity. I'll be forever thankful. My kids will be raised Bears fans. This is home.''
Gould spoke Friday at the Chicago Golf Show. He is promoting a software system called Eventlify that helps organizers manage all aspects of golf events.
Gould converted more than 85 percent of his field goals and missed just four of his 383 extra points as a member of the Bears from 2005-15. He amassed 1,207 points before general manager Ryan Pace and former coach John Fox let him go just before the start of the 2016 season.
In the three years since he has combined to make 82 of 85 field goals for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. Chicago kickers, by comparison, are 57 of 75 in that span.
Parkey simply didn't give the Bears the consistency they've been seeking since letting Gould go. Signed to a four-year contract last March, he made 23 of 30 field goals for the third-lowest conversion rate in the NFL. He was 42 of 45 on extra points. Six of his misses, counting the playoffs, hit uprights. And he didn't endear himself to the team's hierarchy by appearing on the ''Today'' show a few days after that playoff loss, a move coach Matt Nagy referred to as ''a `me' thing.''
The Bears would face a $5.2 million salary cap hit if they release Parkey without a June 1 designation. And Gould might command a rather high price, particularly if the 49ers place the franchise tag on him.
''They have the opportunity to get a contract done with me,'' he said. ''Obviously, they have exclusive rights to talk to me until free agency opens. There's no reason not to. ... At this point, I'm just enjoying being around my kids and not really worried about the football contract.''
Gould insisted he has no hard feelings toward the Bears for letting him go. He was shaky in the 2016 preseason after missing six field goals the previous year to match a career high he set as a rookie. But he has been just about automatic the past three years thanks to some adjustments in his footwork. At 36, he plans to play ''until they tell me no.''
Gould still lives in the Chicago area. His wife Lauren is from here. And in a few weeks, they plan to move into the house in the northwest suburbs built on property purchased just a few days before the Bears cut him.
The Bears, meanwhile, went 12-4 to win the NFC North in Nagy's first season after four straight last-place finishes. Gould called him the ''perfect fit'' for the organization. He mentioned the connection to Kansas City, where Nagy worked on Andy Reid's staff, and longtime Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub has served in the same role since 2013. And he said he also keeps in touch with current Chicago special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
''Once a Bear always a Bear,'' he said. ''I truly mean that. This is where I spent 11 years of my life playing for an awesome organization. I've developed a lot of great relationships throughout the city but also the organization, just like I've done in New York, just like I've done in San Francisco. Will it happen? I don't know.''
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin told Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle that "more surgeries (are) on the way, most likely." NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that Baldwin will visit with Dr. William Meyers soon to see about possibly undergoing sports hernia surgery, according to a source informed of the plan. Head coach Pete Carroll revealed during the scouting combine that Baldwin had knee and shoulder surgeries after the 2018 season ended. The 31-year-old showed his age last year while dealing with multiple injuries, catching only 50 passes for 618 yards and five touchdowns. Baldwin's fantasy stock is trending down after a poor 2018 season, and his latest injury and possible surgery won't help matters.
Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones, who was tied for seventh in the NFL with 13 sacks in 2018, is "very excited" to move from defensive end back to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's 3-4 defensive scheme. Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2017 the last time he played outside linebacker. The two-time Pro Bowler will certainly be in play in IDP leagues once again in 2019. Jones was also up to 280 pounds heading into training camp last summer, but he is now down to around 255 pounds. With veteran Terrell Suggs in the mix, the Cardinals could be sneaky tough against opposing quarterbacks.
The New York Giants brass met with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Tuesday night, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Head coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara, director of college scouting Chris Pettit and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams were in attendance. The Giants have the sixth overall pick in the draft and will need an eventual replacement for Eli Manning. Haskins is a big-armed pocket quarterback, but he could probably use a year of grooming before taking over the starting job in the NFL.
Free-agent S George Iloka (Vikings) is visiting the Oakland Raiders Wednesday, March 20.
Updating previous reports, Los Angeles Rams QB Blake Bortles received a one-year, $1 million deal from the Rams, which will be subtracted from the $6.5 million the Jacksonville Jaguars owe him.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette has and will continue to work out with new University of Wyoming director of sports performance Ben Iannacchione, who spent six of the past seven seasons working in the strength and conditioning program at LSU - Fournette's alma mater. Fournette also spoke with executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, who still has 'full confidence' in the player he selected No. 4 overall in 2017. 'With Leonard, a prepared Leonard coming into camp with a mindset that he discussed and we talked about ... I have full confidence in him. He does have some things he's got to prove when he comes back about his preparation, but he's a young, young player, he loves football, had an outstanding year, had a very disappointing year, and I think he wants to - we want him to be a great player and I think he's in the same mindset,' Coughlin said.
Fantasy Spin: Fournette was among the bigger disappointments in fantasy in 2018, twice missing an extended period of time with hamstring injuries and earning a suspension for coming off the sidelines to throw a punch in Week 12. Owners have every right to avoid him for his lack of durability, but he is also shaping up to be a value pick if he slides into the late third round area of fantasy drafts. Until further notice, he will still be the focal point of the offense. He'll also have plenty of motivation on what should be an improved offense.
The Houston Texans signed free-agent quarterback AJ McCarron to a one-year, $3 million deal on Tuesday, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. He'll serve as the backup to Deshaun Watson in 2019. The former Alabama quarterback has played in just 12 NFL games, including seven for the Bengals in 2015 when he took over for the injured Andy Dalton. McCarron has completed 64 percent of his passes for 928 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He won't be on the fantasy radar.
Free-agent LB Aaron Lynch (Bears) is scheduled to visit the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, March 20. Lynch has already visited with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks this week.
The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year, $5 million deal on Tuesday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He's likely to replace Cole Beasley as the team's slot receiver alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb was a second-round pick of the Packers in 2011 and spent his first eight years in Green Bay. He had a career-high 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, but the 28-year-old missed seven games in 2018 with hamstring and concussion issues. Cobb's fantasy stock will be way down, especially going from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Dallas signal-caller Dak Prescott.
The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a one-year deal worth roughly $5 million (including incentives) on Tuesday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. Burfict roamed the middle of Cincy's defense for seven years, including a 2013 Pro Bowl season after he led the league with 177 tackles. The aggressive and controversial linebacker sat out due to suspension for three straight seasons and also has been hurt by injuries. It could be a perfect fit, but Burfict's days of being IDP-relevant are likely over.
The Los Angeles Rams signed free-agent linebacker Clay Matthews to a two-year deal worth a maximum of $16.75 million, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The former first-rounder will return to his hometown. Matthews had double-digit sacks in four of his first six seasons with the Packers and was an All-Pro in 2010. The 32-year-old's play has declined in recent seasons, but he'll bring veteran leadership to an already stacked Rams unit.
Updating a previous report, free-agent QB AJ McCarron (Raiders) agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $3 million with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, March 19.
Free-agent WR Geremy Davis re-signed with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, March 19. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Free-agent QB Trevor Siemian (Vikings) will meet with the New York Jets Wednesday, March 20.
Free-agent QB Sean Mannion (Rams) has drawn interest from the Minnesota Vikings, according to sources.
Free-agent SS Eric Berry (Chiefs) left his visit with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, March 19, without putting pen to paper. He is expected to visit more teams in the near future.
Free-agent Sean Smith (Raiders) was reinstated from his suspension Tuesday, March 19.
Free-agent S Clayton Geathers (Colts) met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, March 19, according to a source.
Free-agent PK Dan Bailey (Vikings) agreed to re-sign an undisclosed deal with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 19.
Free-agent CB Nevin Lawson (Lions) is visiting the Oakland Raiders Tuesday, March 19, according to a source.