The Chicago Bears received a pleasant surprise throughout the 2020 season: Stability at the kicking position due to Kicker Cairo Santos. After starting in 16 games, Santos would convert 93.8 percent of field goals, including going 36-37 on extra-point attempts. This offseason, Chicago opted to bring Santos back, inking the 29 year old veteran to a three-year deal worth $9M, with $4.5M in guaranteed money.
Entering 2021, the hope is that Santos has another big year, giving Chicago a stable kicker through the end of the 2023 season. As good as Santos was last season, wondering whether or not Santos can have another big year in 2021.
Looking at Santos’ numbers from last season, there is a clear trend that exists: He was most accurate from ranges from 20-39 yards, hitting 100 percent of his field goals. Santos also hit 90 percent of his field goals in the 40-49 ranges while also hitting 67 percent of field goals from 50 yards out.
This isn’t Santos’ first stint in Chicago. His first stint came back in 2017, when he kicked just two games for the Bears. Despite bouncing around with the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, Santos hit just 44.4 percent of field goals in 2019 with the Tennesee Titans.
Number shows that 2020 was a career-year for Santos in terms of production. Heading into 2021, a generalization is that Santos needs to have a career year. A fair expectation would be to see Santos become amongst the best kickers in the NFL, including names like Younghoe Koo (Atlanta Falcons), Jason Sanders (Miami Dolphins), and Greg Zuerlein (Dallas Cowboys).
As Chicago prepares for training camp later this month, the microscope won’t be on Santos but keep an eye on how the eighth-year kicker performs. A major extension this offseason makes him the 17th highest paid kicker in 2021, something that places massive expectations on Santos and the Bears regime who are confident that Santos will have a repeat performance in 2021.