Jaguars should waste no time pursuing UFL kicker superstar Jake Bates

• Jake Bates is coming off a pair of amazing performances in the UFL. The Jaguars should give him a close look.
Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Houston Texans place kicker Jake Bates (49) lines up
Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Houston Texans place kicker Jake Bates (49) lines up / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have experienced a revolving door at kicker the past three years. After several failed attempts to bring consistency to the position, maybe they should turn to the United Football League for the answer.

Kicker Jake Bates has been one of the UFL's brightest spots in his inaugural season, nailing attempts of 62 and 64 yards in back-to-back weeks. The Detriot Lions have already inquired about him and they won't probably be his only suitor. The Jags should most definitely get in line.

Bates originally played soccer at Central Arkansas to start his collegiate career. He switched to football at Texas State in 2020 and transferred to Arkansas two years later. After going undrafted in 2023, the former Cornhusker spent training camp with the Houston Texans but was released before the start of the season. Later in 2023, Bates signed with the Michigan Panthers of the UFL.

The UFL is the merger between the XFL and USFL. Most of the players who joined the league aren't nearly good enough to cut it in the NFL. Others, though, are trying to get a second chance or boost their stock in their hopes of getting a tryout. Bates falls in the latter category.

The Jaguars could most definitely use Jake Bates

The Jags have lacked stability at kicker the past three years. They thought they had found it in free agency when they agreed to terms with Wil Lutz during the tampering period. However, Lutz changed his mind and returned to the Denver Broncos. After failing to lure him, Jacksonville inked Joey Slye, who's expected to compete with Riley Patterson in training camp.

The Jaguars signed Brandon McManus to handle kicking duties last offseason. While he was coming off a down year, the expectation was that he was going to bounce back. To his credit, he got off to an encouraging start but faltered late in 2023, going 10-of-15 in the last seven games.

The Jaguars' woes at kicker date back to 2021. Josh Lambo, who had been reliable from 2017-2020, was dealing with an injury. After a series of inconsistent performances in the regular season, Lambo was cut and Matthew Wright was brought in to take his place.

Wright was also given the boot after 2021. The Jags tried to replace him with Andrew Meavis and veteran Ryan Santoso but neither proved to be a solution, so the front office claimed James McCourt and later Patterson off waivers.

Petteron had a couple of bad outings in the middle of 2022 but bounced back and finished the season strong. However, he lacked the strength for kickoffs and long field goals, so the Jags traded him last offseason to pave the way for McManus.

The Jags brought back Patterson after the 2023 season ended, but if they thought he was the answer, they wouldn't have sent him packing last year. Similarly, Sly isn't particularly great. Last year, he went 19-of-24 in field goals, good for a 79.8 percent success rate.

Maybe Patterson will stick around if the Jaguars don't find a viable solution, but that's why they should make a run for Jake Bates regardless of how much it takes to land him. It won't probably cost more than the minimum since he's not a proven commodity in the NFL. But even if there's demand for his services, the front office shouldn't hesitate to outbid other teams.

After all, Jake Bates has already proved he's got the leg and the accuracy to make field goals, traits the Jaguars have wanted (but haven't gotten) from the kicker position the past three years. Worst-case scenario, he's not the answer and they'll go back to looking. In the end, the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

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