In his six years with the Bears, place-kicker Robbie Gould has become the fifth-most-accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, connecting on 85.5 percent of his attempts.
Aside from his own accuracy, Gould has benefited from the continuity of having Patrick Mannelly as his long-snapper and punter Brad Maynard as his holder every step of the way.
But that ultraefficient combination is history now that the Bears have informed the 14-year veteran and unrestricted free agent Maynard that he no longer figures into their plans.
"It's a sad day, it really is," said Gould, who has known no other holder in his Bears career. "Brad's done a lot for me, personally. He's done a lot for the organization."
Maynard played 10 seasons for the Bears after being signed away from the New York Giants as an unrestricted free agent before the 2001 season. The 37-year-old remains a fine directional kicker, but he's coming off one of his most disappointing seasons.
"It's very unfortunate," Gould said. "But I don't get paid to make those decisions, thankfully. You can't discount what Brad Maynard has been able to do for this organization.
"He's sacrificed a lot (in terms of distance). In a time where punters are now punting all over the place, mostly down the middle of the field, Brad is the best directional punter in the NFL. If you're punting down the middle of the field as far as you want, that's not our scheme. I'm grateful for having him around for the last six years. He was able to help me mature as a professional, (along with) Pat Mannelly."
Since Dave Toub became the Bears' special teams coordinator in 2004, they have annually ranked among the NFL's best units, thanks in part to the success of the FG unit.
"Having those guys around, with the continuity we had as a holding, snapping and kicking, our field-goal unit is by far one of the best to ever play in the NFL," Gould said. "(Maynard) has helped (special-teams coach) Dave Toub's career tremendously.
"I think (Maynard) has a lot of years ahead of him. He knows how to punt, and he's done a great job. Would I love to have him back? Absolutely. Depending on how everything works out in free agency, if something doesn't happen the way the organization would like it to happen, hopefully he would entertain coming back here."
The only punter the Bears have under contract is first-year player Richmond McGee, who spent parts of two offseasons with the team and was on the roster for one game in 2009. The Bears are expected to bring in a veteran punter during training camp.
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