By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears general manager Ryan Pace was scheduled to meet with the media at 11 a.m. Monday, but a visitor had arrived at Halas Hall.
In came kicker Connor Barth, the replacement for the Bears’ all-time leading scorer, Robbie Gould, who was released from the team late Sunday night.
“We’ve evaluated him a lot over the year,” Pace said of Barth. “He’s a guy that’s overcome an injury. He’s an experienced kicker that’s kicked in big games. Especially under 40 yards, he’s very accurate. There’s a sureness of this that I really respect.”
Gould’s release came as a great surprise. He had struggled throughout the preseason, even missing two extra points in Thursday’s preseason finale. However, the Bears had yet to bring in competition for the kicker.
Pace and coach John Fox met with Gould late Sunday and informed him of the decision.
“I want to emphasize the respect we have for Robbie Gould and what he has done for this franchise,” Pace said of Gould’s departure.
Added Fox: “It’s always difficult. It’s never easy. It’s probably the lousiest part of our job.”
Barth, 30, has played eight NFL seasons and 83 games, hitting 100 percent of career kicks between 20-29 yards and 90.7 percent between 30-39 yards. He’s a career 84.8 percent kicker. Barth came to Fox’s Broncos in 2014 in a pinch situation, which helped earn the confidence of the Bears in this unique situation.
The Bears said goodbye to one of their franchise greats and welcomed in a new kicker, believing this was their best move.
“Everything we do is based on performance to get us better,” Fox said. “But it’s not an easy decision.”