Phil Emery opened his pre-training camp presser by congratulating the Chicago Blackhawks. He went on to talk about leadership and contract extensions. It’s as if he was on a preemptive strike, crossing off questions before the gathered media were allowed to ask them. What left everyone buzzing after the presser was the fact that the Bears won’t be negotiating any contract extensions during the season.
The talk about contract talks seems to have polarized the team. You have some players, guys like Devin Hester saying it motivates him for the upcoming season:
“For myself, I can’t speak for others, I’m more excited that this is my contact year,” Hester said. “I’d rather do my contract after the season is over, because the way I’m feeling now, I could boost my stock a whole lot from where it’s at now. I’m not really paying attention to the contract. I’d rather have mine after the season, because what I’m planning on doing this year is going to help me out.
“It’s more motivating than anything. You can tell that this offseason — I went and trained with a cheetah. I’m looking to boost my stock up a little bit and after the season is over I’m looking for some great numbers.”
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s kicker Robbie Gould, who’s none too happy with the development. He was trying to get a deal done a couple of weeks ago, but Emery and the Bears told him the cupboard was bare. Gould claims he won’t let the lack of a contract extension bother him and plans to play hardball next offseason:
“The way I look at it is I’m not even that worried about it,” Gould said. “I was just with a guy who is going to become a free agent next year at my position last week and he’s going to get a deal done in the next two to three weeks. That leaves me being the only guy (at my position) at a young age, in the middle of his career, pointing in the up direction, so I’m not too worried about if they will re-sign me or not because I have all the leverage. If they don’t want to re-sign me now it’s going to cost them double at the end of the year.
But Gould didn’t stop there. He went on to criticize the approach that Phil Emery is taking:
“If they were smart they would try to get their core group of players and re-sign them before the end of the year and try to make it work, but a lot of us are sitting in a great position. You might see a lot of guys exit the Bears (so) this year has to be pretty special because if it doesn’t go as well as planned I can see them completely rebuilding. Or they might find a couple guys they think is their core group and get rid of some of the other higher paid guys.”
If they were smart??? That’s not the way to endear yourself to the new leadership. Gould backpedaled the next day, but he still managed to step in it:
“I’m motivated. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I’m ready to play. I’d love to stay a Bear. That’s always been my goal and that’s why I asked to renegotiate two weeks ago. I’m not focused on it, but you know what, I’m playing for a deal. I’m playing to feed my family. At the end of the day, am I here for the team? Absolutely. The only way I know how to do anything related to my team is to go out and do my job.”
I guess Robbie Gould’s family must be eating surf and turf every night. Do you know that he is set to make $2.4 million this season as a part of a $15 million extension that he signed in 2008 that made him the highest paid kicker in the league at the time of the deal?? He’s the freaking kicker!!! Someone needs to put him in his place.
Yes, Robbie Gould is the most accurate kicker in Bears history and has been among the top kickers in the league in recent years. He has gotten better throughout his career that started when the Bears picked him up off the street and his construction job back in 2005. But he has to remember that he could be back doing construction work again after this season. He replaced a proven vet and will ultimately be replaced himself. That’s the harsh reality of the business of football.
Like a lot of the veterans on the last year of their deals, Gould is on the wrong side of 30 and he ended last season on IR following a calf injury. Not good for a kicker.
Let’s be clear. I like Gould but I lost some respect for him with this latest rant. I commend Phil Emery for taking a wait and see approach, especially with Gould. Peyton Manning probably said it best:
It’s going to be hard for Gould to kick field goals with his foot in his mouth. Like children, kickers should be seen and not heard.