Should Bears Take a Good Look at Kicker Graham Gano?
The Bears have an option available now to challenge kicker Eddy Pineiro, one who has proven effective over the course of five seasons.
Graham Gano was released by the Carolina Panthers. Gano has a career kicking percentage exactly the same as Pineiro's, 82.1%.
Ramiz Ahmed was signed to compete with Pineiro but is a kicker with no NFL experience. Graham would bring a real competition at the position to the Bears far more legitimate than any of the candidates in last year's offseason manhunt.
Gano shares the NFL record for longest game-winning kick at 63 yards, matching Tom Dempsey's fabled record. Like Dempsey, Gano didn't have the benefit of kicking it in thin air at altitude like Matt Prater did for the Denver Broncos when he broke Dempsey's record. Gano's came in New York to beat the Giants.
Beyond the long kick, Gano has been accurate. He made 81.8% or better in seven of his 10 seasons, and led the league at 96.7% with 92 of 30 in 2017.
The problem with signing Gano would be both cost and health. The latter is the main reason the Bears should look the other way on this one.
Gano missed two games in 2017 with knee soreness. In 2018 he spent the final four games sidelined with a knee injury.
Last year Gano went on injured reserve with a left leg injury in preseason and never returned. Meanwhile, Joey Slye became the Panthers' kicker.
New Panthers coach Matt Rhule deemed Gano healthy, for whatever that's worth.
The Bears actually had their own injury concern with Pineiro last year, a very minor one with knee soreness. However, it was bad enough that punter Pat O'Donnell had to kick off 15 times.
The injury was a factor in Matt Nagy going away from Pineiro.
Gano's age factors into this as well. He is 33 now, and lost a job in Washington after his third season.
The Bears have a young kicker who seemed to be gaining confidence. He's paid little, as well, which is another plus.
Pineiro did have a shaky first season but finished on an up note with 11 straight field goals, albeit 10 of those from shorter range.
After the Cody Parkey fiasco, the Bears should count their blessings for what did work to a large extent last year and avoid taking chances.