Lions expected to sign Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates

USA Today

With the UFL season about to conclude, the players in the merged spring league are about to be available for NFL teams to sign. The Detroit Lions have already set their sights on one player from the Michigan Panthers, who play in Ford Field.

As has long been dreamt about by many a Lions fan, the Lions are expected to sign Panthers kicker Jake Bates. Aaron Wilson of KPRC-2 reported on Friday night that the Lions are going to sign the big-legged Bates. Wilson notes the move won’t happen before Tuesday, which is June 18th.

Bates set the football world on fire with a 64-yard field goal in the first game of the season for the Panthers. Despite never being a regular kicker before–he was only a kickoff specialist in college–the Houston native made three FGs from at least 60 yards. He finished the UFL regular season 17-for-22, though he did miss four of his last six kicks from beyond 50 yards.

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The expected signing will up the ante on what is already an interesting kicking competition in Detroit. Holdover Michael Badgley had a pretty good spring, showing increased leg strength and more consistent accuracy on longer kicks. Undrafted rookie James Turner from Michigan has demonstrated a world-class leg in practices connecting on several deep kicks that appeared to have range to close to 70 yards.

The Lions do have an open spot on the 90-man roster after waiving CB Craig James with injury designation during the final week of OTAs.

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