Potential Anders Carlson replacement is waiting for Packers in UFL

Green Bay Packers, Anders Carlson
Green Bay Packers, Anders Carlson / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

Anders Carlson faces an uncertain future with the Green Bay Packers.

After a disappointing rookie season, the Packers ensured Carlson will face competition over the summer by signing veteran kicker Greg Joseph in free agency. However, there's no guarantee Joseph is the Packers' answer, either. Both players missed six kicks from beyond 40 yards last season, while Joseph has missed over half of his career attempts at Lambeau Field.

General manager Brian Gutekunst needs to keep his options open at kicker. Perhaps that means using another late-round pick or signing an undrafted free agent to add more competition at training camp.

Another option could surprisingly come from the UFL.

Packers should pay attention to UFL kicker Jake Bates after unbelievable start

Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates has put the NFL on notice after making an incredible start in the newly revamped United Football League, a merger of the USFL and XFL.

To steal a phrase from professional wrestling legend Jim Ross, Bates has "maximized his minutes." Despite only getting three attempts to kick in the Panthers' opening two games, Bates has made the most of his opportunities, converting field goals from 64, 62, and 52 yards. Talk about making an impression.

Bates hit a 64-yard game-winner in the season opener before backing it up with another conversion of over 60 yards in the following game.

According to Tony Paul of The Detroit News, "multiple NFL teams" have already contacted the Michigan Panthers about Bates. It's unclear whether the Packers are among those teams, but they should be.

Bates was briefly on an NFL roster, signing with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent last year, but he didn't make their final 53. He was named a first-team All-SEC with Arkansas in 2022, but not for kicking field goals. Bates was a kickoff specialist.

It makes his incredible start to the UFL season even more impressive and fascinating. He hasn't kicked field goals since high school but is making 60+ conversions look easy.

Maintaining this consistency in the UFL is one thing. A step up to the NFL is another.

However, with the Packers' uncertainty at kicker, they should keep a close eye on Bates throughout the UFL season. If he continues to play at this level, they should do everything possible to bring him to Green Bay to compete with Carlson and Joseph over the summer.

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