Robbie Gould expressed interest in playing a 19th NFL season, and he auditioned for the Giants last month. The longtime Bears and 49ers kicker will instead opt to leave the game behind.
A day after his 41st birthday, Gould wrote in a Players’ Tribune post he intends to retire. Gould, who sandwiched a lone Giants season between lengthy runs in Chicago and San Francisco, will finish his career as one of the longest-tenured players in this era.
The Penn State alum kicked in 266 games; among players to make their debuts in the 21st century, that ranks ninth. Among kickers, that number ranks behind only Sebastian Janikowski. While other pre-21st-century specialists have that longevity beat, Gould proved dependable to the point he rarely ended up on the kicker workout circuit during his near-two-decade run. Overall, only 10 kickers played more games in NFL history than Gould.
Gould did bounce from the Patriots to the Ravens to the Bears in 2005, but upon signing with the Bears that October, he stayed in Chicago for 11 seasons. While the Bears cut him just before the 2016 campaign, Gould ended up with a playoff-bound Giants squad that year. The 49ers picked him up in 2017 and used him as their kicker for six seasons. Over the course of his career, Gould kicked in 16 playoff games and two Super Bowls — Super Bowl XLI with the Bears and Super Bowl LIV with the 49ers. During that Bears Super Bowl-bound 2006 season, Gould earned first-team All-Pro honors.
Not counting practice squad deals, Gould signed seven NFL contracts. Although kicker sits as one of the league’s lowest-paid positions, Gould made more than $47MM over the course of his career.
The Bears gave Gould a position-topping deal in 2008 (five years, $15.5MM) and extended him again near the end of the 2013 season. After kicking for less than $1MM with the Giants, Gould signed a $2MM-per-year deal with the 49ers. Reestablishing his value on that first San Francisco contract, Gould received the franchise tag in 2019. Just before that year’s July extension deadline, Gould and the 49ers then agreed to terms on a four-year, $19MM extension.
Although Gould demanded a trade after being tagged that year, he ended up playing a pivotal role during the team’s rise under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. After leading the NFL with a 97.1% make rate in 2018, Gould connected at on at least 84% of his kicks over the past two seasons. During the 2021 campaign, Gould made a game-winning kick that finished off a 49ers upset of the No. 1-seeded Packers on a snowy night at Lambeau Field. Gould also made a game-winner in the 2006 playoffs, eliminating the Seahawks in overtime and sending the Bears to their first NFC championship game since 1988. Gould’s 86.46% career make rate ranks ninth in NFL history. Gould finishes his career as one of the best postseason specialists in NFL history, making 29 of 29 field goal attempts and never missing an extra point.
Gould said in July he had spoken with teams and later took part in the above-referenced Giants audition in November, with the team aiming to find a Graham Gano fill-in. The 49ers had used a third-round pick on Michigan’s Jake Moody in April, ending Gould’s productive run in the Bay Area.