7 NFL teams who could sign UFL star kicker Jake Bates

Jake Bates
Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The UFL has a new star player, and his name is Jake Bates, a kicker. Don’t laugh, Bates has quickly developed a reputation in the UFL for consistently showing off his ability to make field goals from distances longer than 60 yards. With that kind of leg strength, he has an NFL future.

While Bates isn’t allowed to just ditch the UFL for the NFL right now, once his season with the Michigan Panthers ends (no later than June), the star kicker will be allowed to pursue a contract in the pros soon enough.

You can bet teams are already lining up to offer the 24-year-old kicker an NFL contract, but only one will be lucky enough to get Bates to sign on the dotted line this fall. Here’s a list of seven teams who could sign Bates.

Carolina Panthers

While plenty of kickers were worse, Eddy Pineiro didn’t inspire confidence last season, ranking 17th in field goal accuracy. Making and missing a kick could be the difference between winning or losing a game, and if the Panthers want to reduce risk, they’d bring in more competition, and Bates is the best player available.

Detroit Lions

While Michael Badgley finished the season strongly with the Lions, making all four kicks, he struggled when called upon in 2022. His career averages of 82.4% accuracy indicate Detroit could find a more reliable kicker. Plus, if Jake Bates can hit a 64-yard kick outdoors, imagine what he could do in the climate-controlled confines at Ford Field.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers already have a three-headed competition at kicker, but that’s a strong sign that the front office isn’t confident that they have their starter yet. Anders Carlson, if he flips a switch, could become the long-term solution, but that’s far from a guarantee. If the other three aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, the Packers could make a beeline for Bates instead.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams were so concerned about their kicking situation that they drafted Joshua Karty in the sixth round. But rookie kickers aren’t always consistent early on. The Rams could take an unconventional approach of trying to slip Karty onto the practice squad while taking a chance on Bates being more NFL-ready. Either way, they’d have a lot of competition in camp.

Related: Sean McVay addresses Matthew Stafford’s future with Rams amid contract dispute

Minnesota Vikings

Like the Rams, the Vikings chose to draft a kicker, adding Alabama’s Will Reichard in the sixth round. They also have former XFL standout John Parker Romo, but with a rookie quarterback, Kevin O’Connell might want more stability at the position, and Bates’ big leg would shine in U.S. Bank Stadium.

Related: Top 10 Minnesota Vikings QB draft picks in team history

New England Patriots

There wasn’t a worse kicker in the NFL than New England’s Chad Ryland during his rookie season. Then, to get more competition at the position, the Patriots signed Joey Slye, but he ranked second-worst among kickers who played all 17 games in accuracy. Basically, the Patriots still don’t have their starting kicker on the roster, but Bates could be a quick solution.

Related: See where Drake Maye and the rookie QB class lands in Sportsnaut’s NFL Quarterback Rankings

Washington Commanders

Brandon McManus had the fifth-worst FG% among kickers who played all 17 games last season, but the Commanders have made him their starting kicker. Oddly enough, they don’t even have another kicker on the roster, but Bates could probably win the job tomorrow.

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