When the Chicago Bears signed Cairo Santos for a second stint with the team in August, they raised questions at a kicker position already overstuffed with them in Windy City. At the time, the club had been cycling through kickers and dancing around the future of incumbent Eddy Piñeiro, who was himself added in the wake of Cody Parkey's infamous 2018 playoff miss. Now, with Santos fresh off a career year headlining the Bears' special teams, Chicago has secured the veteran for the long term with a big payday.
According to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, the Bears have agreed to terms with Santos on a new five-year contract worth up to $17.5 million. The final two years of the deal are voidable, per Biggs, so it's essentially a three-year, $9 million deal worth up to $11 million. Either way, the extension marks the long-anticipated end to a "kicker carousel" in Chi-Town, not to mention a substantial pay raise for the 29-year-old Santos, who hadn't stayed with a team for more than one season since beginning his career with the Chiefs.
Santos counted just $700,000 against the Bears' salary cap in 2020. Under the three-year extension, he'll average a maximum of $3.66 million per year, making him one of the top 15 highest-paid kickers in the NFL.
Undrafted out of Tulane in 2014, Santos spent the first four years of his career in Kansas City, connecting on more than 80% of his field-goal tries in each of his first three seasons. A groin injury limited him early in 2017 before the Chiefs released him from injured reserve, and he spent the next three seasons as a journeyman, appearing in 16 games between the Bears, Rams, Buccaneers and Titans. After rejoining Chicago in 2020, he replaced the injured Piñeiro and hit on 30 of 32 field goals, as well as 36 of 37 extra points.