Brian Johnson

Bears Audition Michael Badgley, Josh Lambo

The Bears may need a kicker for their Week 4 game, and they are turning to the workout circuit to find a fill-in option. The team excused Cairo Santos from practice Thursday for personal reasons, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, and the veteran specialist was not there Friday.

With no kicker currently on the Bears’ 16-man practice squad, outside help appears necessary. Michael Badgley, Josh Lambo and Brian Johnson took part in a Friday workout, Biggs adds (via Twitter). Santos, 31, has been the Bears’ kicker since 2020. Via the three-year extension he signed in 2021, Santos is signed through the 2024 season.

Badgley, Lambo and Johnson kicked in the NFL last season. None entered this season with a gig. Both Lambo and Badgley began their careers with the Chargers; Badgley played as a Colts replacement option last season, while Lambo was with the Jaguars from 2017-21. The team moved in a different direction this year, ditching both Lambo and top 2021 option Matthew Wright.

Lambo, 31, only kicked in seven Jaguars games from 2020-21 but was the team’s full-timer for most of Doug Marrone‘s HC tenure. He led the NFL with a 97% make rate during his most recent full season (2019), going 33-for-34, but missed each of his three field goal tries last season. Lambo’s Jacksonville stay represents his longest as a pro; it will likely be most remembered for his Urban Meyer conflict. Lambo has sued the Jags, alleging Meyer kicked him while he was warming up for a preseason game. Jacksonville released Lambo in October 2021.

Signed to replace an injured Rodrigo Blankenship midway through last season, Badgley made 86% of his tries (18 of 21) in Indianapolis. One of the Saints’ four options in their Wil Lutz-less season, Johnson also kicked for Washington in 2021. Johnson has yet to miss a field goal as a pro, going 10-for-10 as a rookie. This has been a two-workout week for Badgley, who auditioned for the Chiefs with ex-Jags teammate Wright. The latter landed the job — a spot on Kansas City’s P-squad.

Panthers Work Out Five Kickers

Zane Gonzalez was injured on the sideline during Friday’s preseason contest, and the Panthers are now eyeing some reinforcement at kicker. According to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter), the Panthers worked out kickers Taylor Bertolet, Brian Johnson, Chase McLaughlin, Eddy Pineiro, and Matthew Wright.

After seeing time in 15 games across two seasons with five different teams, McLaughlin got a chance to be the Browns’ full-time kicker in 2021. He converted 15 of his 21 field goal attempts and 36 of his 37 extra point attempts. With Cleveland selecting Cade York in the fourth round of the draft, McLaughlin was ultimately cut back in May.

Wright got into 14 games for the Jaguars last year, connecting on 21 of his 24 field goal attempts and 13 of his 15 XP tries. After converting 82.1 percent of his FG attempts in 16 games with the Bears in 2021, Pineiro saw time in five games with the Jets last year. He made all eight of his field goal attempts and nine of his 10 extra point attempts.

Johnson appeared in seven games between New Orleans and Washington last year, connecting on all 10 of his field goal attempts (but only nine of his 13 extra point tries). Bertolet, an undrafted free agent back in 2016, has spent time with five NFL teams but hasn’t seen time in a regular season game.

Gonzalez injury himself on Friday night while warming up on the sideline. It was later revealed that he suffered a significant groin injury, with Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer writing that it could be a season-ending injury.

Panthers K Zane Gonzalez To Miss Extended Stretch

2:15pm: The Panthers’ search will start with Brian Johnson, a Virginia Tech product who kicked in seven games with Washington and New Orleans last season, Person tweets. Johnson was 10-for-10 on field goal attempts but missed four extra points as a rookie.

1:21pm: After the news of Sam Darnold‘s injury, the Panthers have another veteran set to miss what looks like an extended time period. Zane Gonzalez suffered what Matt Rhule called a significant, long-term injury, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. He suffered the setback during warmups.

Gonzalez, whom the Panthers re-signed this offseason, sustained a groin injury. As a result, the Panthers are looking for a replacement kicker. Gonzalez, 27, is the only one on Carolina’s roster. The Panthers can stash him on IR after roster cutdown day.

[RELATED: Darnold Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

The former Browns and Cardinals specialist missed the final four games of last season due to a quadriceps injury. He re-signed with the Panthers on a two-year, $4.5MM deal in March. Gonzalez has not kicked in a full season since 2019, when he was with the Cardinals. He connected on a career-high 90.9% of his field goal tries in 2021 and was 22-for-23 on PATs with the Panthers last season.

Carolina has gone through some kicker turnover in recent years. The team moved on from Joey Slye after two seasons and ditched Slye’s replacement — 2021 trade acquisition Ryan Santoso — after one game. Lirim Hajrullahu also worked as the team’s primary Gonzalez replacement. Hajrullahu is available, after the Cowboys waived him last week.

Rhule said the team will look at free agent fill-in options while examining teams with two-kicker rosters presently. Kickers will be available on the waiver wire Tuesday, when rosters must be slashed from 80 to 53 players. New special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will help with the search, per The Athletic’s Joe Person, who notes recently cut Jets kicker Eddy Pineiro will be a name to monitor (Twitter link). Tabor coached Pineiro with the Bears.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/13/22

Today’s minor moves around the league:

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/16/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender decisions from around the NFL:

RFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

RFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/22

The deadline for teams to extend tender offers to their restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents looms next week. We’ll keep tabs on the latest here:

RFAs

Tendered:

Packers Interview Bolts’ Kevin Koger For OC Job, Plan To Meet With Eagles’ Brian Johnson

After three years with Nathaniel Hackett as Matt LaFleur‘s right-hand man on offense, the Packers must find a replacement. A day after Hackett became the Broncos’ head coach, they are interviewing external candidates.

The Packers have interviewed Chargers tight ends coach Kevin Koger for their offensive coordinator job, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson is expected to interview as well. The team is still considering in-house staffers Luke Getsy (QBs coach) and Adam Stenavich (offensive line) for Hackett’s old job.

Koger is just 32 but was with the Packers for two years. The former Michigan tight end worked as a quality control staffer in Green Bay from 2019-20. The Chargers hired him as their tight ends coach last year. Koger would be an unlikely fit, based on his experience, at this point. That said, the Broncos also plan to meet with Koger about their OC vacancy, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). Interviews at this juncture of Koger’s career certainly reveal a positive view of the young assistant.

Johnson, 34, has only been an NFL assistant for one season, coming to Philadelphia in 2021. But he was a college offensive coordinator at three schools — Utah, Houston and Florida — and landed his first OC gig when he was just 25. Johnson oversaw the Gators’ offense in 2020, helping Kyle Pitts break through to become the highest-drafted tight end in the common draft era.

Getsy and Stenavich have each drawn outside OC interest. The Broncos are expected to interview Stenavich for their OC gig, while the Bears are targeting Getsy — to the point an offer is expected — for their play-calling gig under Matt Eberflus. Green Bay’s OC role does not come with play-calling responsibilities, with LaFleur performing that role.

Washington To Sign K Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team is moving on to its fourth kicker of the season. In the wake of Joey Slye‘s injury, Washington has agreed to sign kicker Brian Johnson off the Bears’ practice squad (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Washington K Joey Slye To Miss Time]

Johnson, a Virginia Tech alum, actually succeeded Slye as the Hokies’ kicker. He kept that job from 2018 through 2020 and sank 20 of his 26 field goals as a senior. After graduation, he hooked on with the Bears’ taxi squad, before being plucked by the Saints in October.

Johnson went on to make all eight of his field goals across four games. Unfortunately, he also bricked three point-after attempts across his last two games in New Orleans, including a pair that cost them a win over the Titans. The Saints moved on to Brett Maher, but Johnson will have a chance at redemption in D.C. He’ll try to match Slye’s mostly solid work in Washington — 6-of-6 on FGs with only one missed/blocked XP.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/23/21

Today’s taxi squad moves:

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

New England Patriots

  • Signed: P Corliss Waltman

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

  • Signed: C Tyler Gauthier
  • Released: LB Anthony Hines, WR Damion Willis