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The Bear’s Den: January 25, 2017 - Should Chicago keep Connor Barth?

Do we start a kicker carousel?

The Den will be taking a look at one of the Chicago Bears' 2017 unrestricted free agents (UFA's) and restricted free agents (RFA's) each day until we have knocked out the list.

I will be talking about the player, whether I personally would sign the player and to what contract, and what my best guess the Bears will do with him.

Today let’s discuss a controversial Bear this season, kicker Connor Barth out of North Carolina.

Barth was an unpopular last minute replacement for Bears legend Robbie "Good As" Gould, Chicago. Gould struggled last season in Chicago, and by all accounts he had a horrible camp. Still, pretty much everybody was shocked when Chicago replaced Gould at the end of pre-season with the much-less-expensive Connor Barth.

Barth didn’t endear himself to fans early on, with several key misses. Barth was 18-23 in the field goal department, 78.3 percent with a long of 54 yards. By comparison, Gould was 33 of 39 for a percentage of 84 percent in 2015 for Chicago. The problem wasn’t that he missed too many, it was WHEN he missed them, directly costing Chicago 2 wins. In 2014, Gould was 9 of 12 for 75 percent.

Lifetime, comparing Barth to Gould, Barth has a 84 percent rate, while Gould (who admittedly kicked in much tougher conditions) is 85.9.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two was Robbie’s contract, one that made him the highest paid kicker in the NFL. Barth is more of a "league minimum" type of a guy.

That none of Barth’s misses really cost Chicago dearly this season was more of a testament to the fact that we were way behind in a lot of games than his "clutch" performance. Gould, as a comparison, went on the kick for New York towards the end of the season going 10 for 10, but he had two extra point misses in a Giants win this season in a game with a howling wind that he called "the worst conditions I have ever kicked in".

Kickoff stats from this season are weird, since the rule change, so you can’t really compare them to the past. Robbie wasn’t very good at kickoffs, and Barth isn’t either. That’s a wash.

Here’s one thing to consider about whether it was a good idea to release Gould or no. This season, it didn’t matter, Barth didn’t cost us a game. Additionally, that extra 3-million we didn’t spend on Gould’s salary is rolling into next year’s salary cap. So, there’s that.

Bottom line, Gould is gone (and not coming back) and Barth is here. Did he do enough to stay?

My take on whether we should bring Barth back: Yes, but... we definitely need competition in the draft, and there are some great kickers coming out of college we should be looking at, bringing the best one we can get as a priority UDFA or if there’s a guy we REALLY love throwing a 7th round pick at him. I’m not sold on Barth, but he’s "OK". I want better than "OK", I want a great.

Will Chicago bring him back? Yes, but... they will probably (and definitely should) bring in competition.



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