The Bears on Monday made a change at kicker, signing Cairo Santos and waiving Connor Barth.
Santos, 26, appeared in 51 games the past four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, converting 89-of-105 field-goal attempts (84.8 percent) with a long of 53 yards. He is also 6-of-6 in three career postseason games.
Santos made all three field goals and all 12 extra points he attempted with the Chiefs this season before he aggravated a groin injury in a Week 3 win over the Chargers. He was placed on injured reserve Sept. 26 and released four days later.
“The reason he was available was due to injury,” said coach John Fox. “Getting him healthy from that was key for him and us. We were fortunate that he was available. That’s why we signed him.”
Santos performed well for the Chiefs last season, connecting on 31-of-35 field-goal attempts (88.6 percent) while appearing in all 16 games. His 88.6 percent ranked fifth in the NFL.
“He’s been pretty accurate,” Fox said. “He gets pretty good lift on the ball. His leg strength he’s developed, he has good hang time on his kickoffs. I’d say the key is he’s an accomplished kicker in the National Football League.”
Santos is the first Brazilian-born player to appear in an NFL regular-season game. He was introduced to American football at the age of 15 while visiting Florida as a foreign exchange student. Santos initially planned to stay in the United States for one year, but he decided to remain in Florida to attend high school and ultimately earned a scholarship from Tulane.
Barth was released one day after he missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with :03 remaining in regulation that likely would have forced overtime in a 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. Barth connected on 11-of-16 field-goal tries (68.8 percent) in 10 games this season.
“He’d tell you the same thing: it wasn’t going great,” Fox said. “It just wasn’t yesterday’s kick. We haven’t been in the red area a lot. It feels a little harder than normal. Before yesterday, we were down there maybe 16 times, so those four misses—five yesterday, you feel it. He sensed it and he understands. It’s never easy making those changes.”