An already eventful year for Robbie Gould became even more so when the Bears' kicker agreed Friday to a four-year contract extension for $15 million with $9 million guaranteed.
The nine-year veteran, who turns 32 on Monday, became the second-most-accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history by connecting on 21 of his first 22 attempts this season. He witnessed the birth of his first child in the wee hours of Dec. 1, and then flew to Minnesota, arriving just in time for the Bears-Vikings game. Gould missed a 66-yard FG attempt in a tie game at the end of regulation, and in overtime he was wide right from 47 yards out in a game the Vikings eventually won 23-20.
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"It still upsets me," Gould said of the miss. "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."
Gould and the Bears recovered from that defeat and will play the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Soldier Field with the NFC North title and that playoff berth on the line.
The Penn State product is currently the third-most-accurate kicker in NFL history (86.0 percent) and in the final year of a six-year deal that paid $2.425 million in 2013.
General manager Phil Emery had announced in training camp they would not offer contract extensions to any players. The Bears had little room under the cap, and Emery wanted the focus to be on winning a championship.
Gould was upset at the time.
"I was probably one of the more outspoken guys (then)," he admitted Friday. "Everyone kind of knows that. But this is a special day for a lot of reasons. When you become a little bit of an older veteran, you kind of realize maybe what's more important when you have to sit around and think about where you want to be, so we reached out to the organization and Phil. I thought it was important that I remain a Bear."
According to Emery, Gould has been successful on 90 percent of his FG attempts when the Bears are trailing. That "says a lot about who he is as an athlete, his mental toughness," Emery said.
Gould has kicked 11 career game-winning field goals, and has scored 1,021 points, which is second in franchise history.
The new deal was made possible when, late in the season, the Bears had some money left in the emergency fund they keep for signing replacements for injured players. Gould's agent, Brian Mackler, approached Emery on Monday, and four days later a deal was done.
"I could've waited. I could've went out in the market," Gould said. "To stay in a Bears uniform, possibly holding all the Bears' kicking records (was important)."
In this year's season opener, Gould broke his franchise record by one yard with a 58-yard field goal. He needs 96 more points to pass Kevin Butler, who holds the franchise record with 1,116 points, and 10 more field goals to surpass Butler's team-record 243 field goals.