Home Sports Lions sign UFL kicking breakout Jake Bates to 2-year contract

Lions sign UFL kicking breakout Jake Bates to 2-year contract

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Lions sign UFL kicking breakout Jake Bates to 2-year contract

Dan Campbell’s lack of confidence in his kicker arguably cost the Detroit Lions a chance to win last season’s NFC championship game. The team is looking for one of this year’s UFL sensations to potentially address that issue.

The Lions signed Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates to a two-year contract. bates agent reported Adam Schefter of ESPN of the firm after his client also visited the Washington Commanders and the Green Bay Packers. The news that Bates was going to Detroit was first reported by Aaron Wilson from Houston’s KPRC-TV.

Bates, 24, made field goals of 64 and 62 yards during the season for the Panthers. The Arizona Cardinals’ Matt Prater was the only NFL kicker to hit a 62-yarder last season, and he did so in the Week 3 win over the Dallas Cowboys. (Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker holds the NFL record with a 66 yard field goal made against the Lions in 2021.)

He previously signed free agency deals with the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, but was released by both teams.

In the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Campbell twice opted to go for it on fourth down in the second half, rather than letting kicker Michael Badgely attempt field goals of 46 and 48 yards. Detroit didn’t convert on any of the attempts and passing a possible six points could have been the difference in a 34-31 loss.

The Lions already had two kickers on the roster with Badgely and rookie free agent James Turner. Badgely was 4 of 4 on field goals and 13 of 15 on extra points, but his longest was a 41-yarder. He joined Detroit when Riley Patterson was released after 13 games.

Despite Bates’ great leg, he was not the most accurate kicker, converting 77% (17 of 22) of his field goals for the Panthers. However, all five of his misses were from 50 yards or more. It’s possible Detroit could keep him for kickoffs and field goal attempts longer than 50 yards. But roster spots are at a premium and the Lions may not prefer to use two of them on placekickers.

Bates was a kickoff specialist in college, playing at Arkansas, Texas State and Central Arkansas (where he also played football). His 60+ yard field goals early in the UFL season were the first kicks he had made in a game since high school.

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