Lions among teams to request visit with Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates

It has been expected, but the Detroit Lions are among the NFL teams with interested in UFL kicker Jake Bates.
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Since the UFL season started, Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates has been on the radar of the Detroit Lions. Fans wanting a legitimate competition for incumbent kicker Michael Badgley, with the convenience of the Panthers playing their home games at Ford Field, have had Bates on their radar for months too.

The Panthers made it all the way to the USFL conference championship game last weekend, falling to the Birmingham Stallions after they held a lead in the game. UFL players can't sign with NFL teams until teams until the league's season is fully over, on June 17, but there have already been multiple reports of teams showing interest in UFL players and the Lions should have interest in some.

It's inevitable Bates would draw interest from NFL teams, and the Lions would inevitably be one of those teams. According to NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Lions are indeed among four teams who have requested a visit with Bates. The Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Washington Commanders have done so as well.

Update: According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Bates had a visit (not a workout) with the Lions on Tuesday.

Could Jakes Bates come in take the kicking gig for the Lions?

The Bates buzz cooled a bit over the course of the UFL season, as his performance cooled off. He had two missed field goals late in the aforementioned loss to the Stallions, and overall he went 20-for-27 on field goals (one blocked). In line with that drop-off from Bates, some other UFL kickers (Andre Szmyt, Matthew McCrane) have garnered mention as potential options for the Lions. And as Mike Payton of AtoZ Sports noted, ESPN announcers passed along indications that Bates appeared to be hurt during the game against Birmingham.

Undrafted rookie kicker James Turner took a big step to assert himself as legit competition with Badgley by outdoing the veteran during mandatory minicamp. Compared to a couple months ago, it feels increasingly unlikely Bates will come in and stake a significant claim to be the Lions' kicker.

But it still makes sense for the Lions to get a look at Bates when they can, in a "no stone unturned" sense. There's just no denying the shine on him is not as bright as it was.

Next. Detroit Lions post-minicamp 53-man roster projection. Detroit Lions post-minicamp 53-man roster projection. dark