Lions Sign UFL Kicker Jake Bates to Two-Year Contract

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Detroit Lions Sign UFL Kicker Jake Bates to Two-Year Contract

The Detroit Lions have signed United Football League (UFL) kicker Jake Bates to a two-year contract, his agent, Marty Magid, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Detroit Lions kicker Jake Bates made a UFL-record 64-yard game-winning field goal in the 2024 season opener

Bates, 24, signed with the Houston Texans on July 31, 2023, after going undrafted in the 2023 NFL draft. However, the Texans released him almost two weeks later on Aug. 12.

In December 2023, he signed with the UFL’s Michigan Panthers. Prior to the league’s inaugural 2023 season, the UFL adopted a kickoff rule requiring the ball to go 80 yards for a touchback, 15 yards longer than other leagues.

Bates ranked second in the UFL this season with 17 field goals for the Panthers out of 22 attempts (77.2%). The 5-foot-10, 202-pound kicker made a 64-yard game-winning field goal in the season opener against the St. Louis Battlehawks, just two yards less than Justin Tucker’s NFL record of 66.

That kick was Bates’ first in a game, as the former soccer player didn’t play football until he was a senior in high school and was a kickoff specialist in college at Texas State (2020-21) and Arkansas (2022).

Bates went on to kick two more field goals of 60 or more yards in the 2024 UFL season: an April 7 kick against the Birmingham Stallions from 62 yards, and a 60-yard kick against the Arlington Renegades on May 5.

The ball Bates kicked on the 64-yard field goal is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of its “Pro Football Today” exhibit. He was named to the 2024 All-UFL team on June 5.

Bates averaged 64.5 yards per pick in his only season at Arkansas

While at Texas State, Bates averaged 61.6 yards per kickoff as a sophomore and 62.8 yards as a junior. His success opened the door for him to kick in the SEC.

Bates, a native of Tomball, Texas, then transferred to Arkansas in 2022 to once again serve as a kickoff specialist. He averaged 64.5 yards per kick during his lone season at the school.

Bates visited the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Washington Commanders before opting to stay in Michigan.

Last season, the Lions ranked 11th in field goal percentage (90.5%), fourth in extra points attempted (52), sixth in extra points made (48), sixth in kickoffs (93), 19th in kickoff touchbacks (60), and 27th in kickoff average yardage (62.6).

Michael Badgley was the kicker, Jack Fox served as punter, and Jake McQuaide played long snapper. In 2024, Bates will be competing with Badgley and undrafted Michigan kicker James Turner for a roster spot.