The Chicago Bears had plenty of issues a season ago, but special teams were not one of them. They had a handful of fumbles, a punt was blocked, and a few missed extra points, but overall special teams coordinator Richard Hightower and assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk had their guys playing decent football. And considering the lack of talent on the bottom of the roster that they dealt with, I would expect this unit to be better in 2023.
I'll get into the three specialists here, and for more on the returners and the players covering the kicks and punts, be sure to check out the other positional breakdowns in the story stream below.
In this 12-part series, I'll list the current Chicago players' contract status on a position-by-position basis while speculating on some offseason moves that could happen.
Trenton Gill - Signed through 2025 - Gill had an okay rookie season, and there's no reason for the Bears to spend anything significant to upgrade the spot. A full offseason working on his craft will have him enter camp more confident and ready to build off his 2022.
Here's a fun fact for fans of the Gill-otine; his 46 yards per punt after one season places him as Chicago's all-time leader in punting average among punters with at least a year's worth of punts. Second on that list is Pat O'Donnell at 45.1, followed by George Gulyanics at 44.5.
Cairo Santos - Signed through 2023 - While Santos is technically a free agent after one more season, there are still two void years the Bears will need to account for at $500,000 each. He had a stretch where his extra points were off, but he identified the issue and seemed to have fixed the problem. He was seventh in the NFL in field goal percentage last year at 91.3%.
His 89.7 career field goal percentage as a Bear places him tops all-time in franchise history ahead of Robbie Gould's 85.4%.
Patrick Scales - Free agent - The Bears have brought in some offseason competition for Scales the last few years, but each year they're cut, and Scales is the last long snapper standing.
He's played in 82 consecutive games for the Bears, and 103 total since 2015, which places him 85th in franchise history at one more game than Jay Cutler.
2023 OUTLOOK - Scales will likely be re-upped on another one-year deal at some point. The Bears may bring in another long snapper for camp, but the 35-year-old Scales is still at the top of his game.
The Bears may bring in a camp leg at kicker and punter, but I don't expect Santos or Gill to be replaced.
How confident are you in this triumvirate of specialists for the Bears?