July 20, 2024

The Detroit Lions were among the clubs interested in kicker Jake Bates, which was not surprising given that the Michigan Panthers’ UFL season concluded last weekend. He received a visit on Tuesday, and Aaron Wilson of Houston’s KPRC reported on Friday night that the Lions were expected to sign him.

It’s said a deal is done. The Lions and Bates have reached an agreement on a two-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday morning, citing Bates’ agency. The financial details are unknown, and it’s important to remember that UFL players cannot formally sign with NFL teams until Tuesday.

A two-year term is noticeable on the surface though.

According to Wilson, Bates also had visited the Packers and Commander and he had interest from three other NFL teams (the Ravens were named previously). But as Schefter had in his report, Bates “opted to stay in Michigan.”

Bates immediately landed on the radar of Lions’ fans (and the Lions, for that matter) when he made a 64-yard game-winning field goal for the Panthers in their season opener. He finished the regular season 17-for-22 on field goals, but only one of those misses was from shy of 50 yards out. He went 3-for-5 on field goals in the Panthers’ USFL conference championship game loss to Birmingham, as ESPN announcers speculated he might have been injured. But if the Lions are signing him, he must be fine or he will be come training camp.

Jake Bates joins Lions’ kicking competition

The Lions had an open spot on their roster after waiving cornerback Craig James with an injury designation this week, So there should be no corresponding move necessary to make room for Bates.

The Lions will of course now have three kickers on their roster, as Bates joins Michael Badgley and undrafted rookie James Turner. By all accounts Turner gained a leg up in the competition with Badgley during mandatory minicamp, but he’ll need to carry that momentum into training camp to take the job from the incumbent the Lions haven’t shown great interest in actually replacing.

The odds Bates wins the kicking job for the Lions seem slim. But they are doing their full due diligence to give him a shot, ideally with no preconceived notions that will just land them back on Badgley after offering a veil of competition.

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