By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — The joke is too easy, but yes, Robbie Gould’s family won’t be going hungry for the next four years.
The Bears and their star kicker agreed on a four-year extension through the 2017 season Friday, a deal that will reportedly earn Gould over $9 million guaranteed — the most for a kicker in NFL history.
“I really love the organization. I really love the city. I love being a Chicago Bear,” Gould said. “I enjoy putting the uniform on every Sunday or Monday night or Thursday night or whenever we’re playing. It means a lot. It means a lot to be in one jersey. It means a lot to continue your career in one jersey.”
Gould can reportedly earn $15 million over the length of the deal and the kicker said the terms were beneficial for both sides.
“We’ve got something special here. You’ve got guys – Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, James Anderson – you’ve got guys that are up and if the deal we’ve struck gives a little extra money to keep guys around, then I’m all for it,” he said.
Gould was outspoken at the beginning of training camp when Bears general manager Phil Emery announced he would not discuss any extensions during the season, despite over half of the opening day roster playing on expiring contracts. He famously said: “I’m playing to feed my family.”
So what changed that allowed Gould to get his extension before the end of the season?
“We entered into this season with very little cap room after the offseason that we had and signings that we had through pro free agency. That little space that we did have, we had to hold back for emergency funds in case we were to have injuries throughout the year,” general manager Phil Emery said Friday.
Recently, it became apparent that the Bears would have enough space to consider an extension for at least one player before the end of the season.
“We didn’t use all the remaining emergency funds that we had. 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,” Emery said.
But Brian Mackler, Gould’s agent, approached Emery on Monday and negotiations moved quickly.
“It was the easiest negotiation I’ve ever been a part of,” Gould said.
That may come as a surprise to some as the kicker admitted, “I was probably one of the more outspoken guys at the start of training camp. I think everyone knows that.”
Five months have passed since Gould’s angst, however, and the two sides arrived on the same side this week when discussing a contract for the first time since July.
“I think we both agreed on what our vision was,” Emery said. “Our vision was that together, some day we would be 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.”
Gould, who was playing on an expiring contract for the first time in his career, said “it’s been a great year to be able to sit back and think about a lot of different things.”
In addition to getting married and having his first child, Gould is also having a great season. He’s currently 26-of-29 on the year, which ties him with his own 2008 mark (also 26-of-29) for the best field goal percentage in Bears single-season history.
“I play better when I’m grumpy. I play better when I don’t like something,” Gould said, referring to his comments back in July.
Don’t expect him to get complacent now that he has a new contract though. He’s still not over the game-winning field goal he missed in Minnesota Dec. 1.
“It’s fueled my fire, honestly,” Gould said. “I talked to a lot of you guys after that game, it still upsets me. I didn’t come through for my teammates in the clutch. That one kick could possibly be the kick that keeps us out of the playoffs.”
The 31-year-old kicker joined the Bears in 2005 and is the most accurate kicker in Bears history and the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. In 137 NFL games, he’s made 234-272 field goals – good for 86 percent. Emery pointed out Friday that Gould’s career percentage when the Bears are trailing is 90 percent.
Now Gould has his sights set on Kevin Butler’s all-time Bears records. He needs 10 more field goals to have the most made field goals in Bears history and 96 more points to pass Butler (1,116 points) for the most points in franchise history.
“Kevin Butler and I always talk about those scenarios,” Gould said. “I hope that when those records come up, I would love for him to be on the sideline or be at the game so I could share that moment with him because I know how hard it is to hold that record and I know how hard it is to work to get to those records. I hope I can share those special moments with him.”
Those two records should be easy now that Gould has re-upped for four more seasons.
“If I can’t do that in four years, they might as well cut me now,” he said.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.