For the first time in forever, field goals at Soldier Field will no longer be as good as Gould.
As first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and then confirmed by the team, the Bears cut kicker Robbie Gould on Sunday night. In doing so, the Bears freed up $3 million in cap space. They also just parted ways with their all-time leader in points scored and their longest-tenured player -- a distinction quarterback Jay Cutler now owns.
In Gould's career, which began in Chicago in 2005, he appeared in 166 games, connecting on 85.4 percent of his field goals and 99 percent of his extra points. His 1,207 points scored top the Bears' all-time leaderboard. Until Sunday, he was the only surviving member of the 2006 Lovie Smith-coached team that journeyed to the Super Bowl. He was -- is -- one of the greatest kickers of all-time, ranking ninth in career field-goal percentage.
For more than a decade, Gould drilled big-time kicks and served as a leader within the locker room. In December 2014, when the season under Marc Trestman nosedived deep into the depths of Lake Michigan and Trestman responded by benching Cutler for Jimmy Clausen, it was Gould who publicly defended Cutler. Before the Bears even fired Trestman, it was Gould who accused his coach of scapegoating his quarterback.
Unfortunately for Gould, his performance hit a snag in the past two seasons. He hit just 75 percent of his kicks in an injury-shortened 2014 season and, in 2015, he missed the kind of clutch kicks that often get kickers cut, including what would've been a 50-yard, game-tying kick in the fourth quarter against the Redskins and what would've been a 36-yard, game-winning kick against the 49ers. Though, to be fair to Gould, he also drilled a game-winning 49-yarder against the Raiders.
He also struggled with kickoffs. According The Chicago Tribune, the Bears ranked 32nd in opponents' average starting field position after kickoffs.
This preseason, Gould went 5 of 6 on field goals and just 1 of 3 on extra points, which might've sealed his fate.
And then there's the issue of money. By cutting Gould, the Bears saved $3 million at a crucial time due to the signing of Josh Sitton, which bolstered the interior of their offensive line. The sad fact is that Gould is 34 and the Bears can find a younger, cheaper option elsewhere, though the actual name of Gould's replacement is unknown at this point. The Bears have less than a week to find a new kicker before they head to Houston for their season opener next Sunday.
What is known is that Gould leaves Chicago as one of the greatest Bears of all-time. For 11 years, he truly was gold.