Vikings division rival expected to add UFL star to 2024 roster

Jake Bates
Jake Bates / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

There have been some significant changes to the NFC North this offseason. The Minnesota Vikings will have several new players taking the field in 2024 but the other teams in the division have also been active this year.

One position where quite a few changes were made is at kicker. The Vikings moved on from Greg Joseph, signing free agent John Parker Romo and drafting Will Reichard with a sixth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Green Bay Packers signed Joeseph and will have him compete with returning kicker Anders Carlson, who struggled mightily at times through last season, especially from 40-49 yards out where he only connected on half his kicks.

Vikings division rival expected to add UFL star to 2024 roster

The Detroit Lions are expected to have a kicking competition of their own this season. The returning NFC North Champions have Michael Badgley and James Turner available but are expected to add to that competition according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on X.

Detroit is expected to sign former Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates to a two-year deal this week. Bates spent last season in the UFL He is known for having big kicking power, knocking through a 64-yard game winner last season for Michigan.

The 24-year-old Texas State and Arkansas kicker went undrafted in 2023 and was signed by the Houston Texans. Bates lasted less than two weeks with Houston before being waived but looked good in the UFL last season.

Bates is currently tied for the second-longest field goal attempt made in professional football history. The longest belongs to Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who converted a 66-yard try against the Lions in 2021.

Having a kicker with that kind of range can be a huge asset. Although Detroit is a team known to be willing to roll the dice every now and then, having a chance to get points when stopped short of the end zone is always valuable.

In today's NFL, so much attention is put on "skill positions" like quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends, but having a kicker that can consistently put points on the board and give opportunities for a long field goal can go a long way toward securing a victory.

Jake Bates would still need to win the competition in training camp and the preseason before becoming the Lions' kicker. If he can accomplish that feat, he and Detroit will face the Minnesota Vikings at least twice in 2024.