Robbie Gould won’t kick for the Bears in 2019.
The 49ers announced Tuesday that they were putting a nonexclusive franchise tag on Gould, taking him off the free-agent market before it opens next month.
The 49ers and Gould will continue to work on a long-term deal between now and July 15. If they can’t come to a resolution, Gould will play next season under the franchise tag and make about $5 million — by far, the highest salary among NFL kickers in 2019.
The nonexclusive tag means that other teams could still negotiate a deal with Gould and give the 49ers a chance to match it. If they didn’t match, the 49ers would receive two first-round picks. That exorbitant price rules out Gould playing for any other team but the 49ers in 2019 — and likely beyond.
So the Bears will have to look elsewhere for Cody Parkey’s replacement. The team is at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where three kickers will be on display. They figure to eye veterans next month after cutting Parkey — who missed 11 kicks (eight field goals, three extra points) in his only season with the team — on the first day of the league year.
The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski and the Jets’ Jason Myers are the most notable potential free agents in the class. Gould, whom the Bears cut before the 2016 season, was considered perhaps the best fit for Soldier Field among the group.
As a member of the Bears from 2005 to 2015, Gould made 85.4 percent of his field goals and 99 percent of his extra points.
He dominated in San Francisco the way he did in Chicago, making 72 of 75 field goals and 55 of 59 extra points in two seasons with the 49ers.
Gould kept his family in Chicago during the season and even attended the Bears’ playoff loss, in which Parkey double-doinked the potential game-winner. Earlier this month, though, Gould, 36, made a return to the 49ers sound likely.
“Obviously, I still have an affinity for the city of Chicago,” Gould said in Atlanta, where he was a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. “[The 49ers] have exclusive rights to talk to me until free agency opens up. I think there’s a mutual understanding of wanting to go back there, but I’ve been through free agency before, and you never know what’s going to happen. . . .
“They’ve said they wanna bring me back, obviously. At some point, we have to negotiate a contract. . . . When the time’s right, they’ll do that, and we’ll figure it out. If not, we’ll figure it out.”