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Jake Bates continues spectacular UFL season with 55-yard field goal

For the players, the primary goal of playing spring football is to get signed by an NFL team. One player in the United Football League has already guaranteed that he’ll be in an NFL training camp this summer: Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates.

Bates hit a 55-yard field goal in Sunday’s game, the fourth long field goal he’s made already in just three weeks of the UFL season. He previously made field goals of 64, 62 and 52 yards in the first two weeks of the season. Bates’ 55-yarder on Sunday would have been good from much further back; it was still several yards above the cross bar when it hit the net.

There’s little doubt that Bates will be kicking in the NFL this preseason, and the only question is whether he can show enough consistency to make a roster in the regular season. Bates played only sparingly as a kickoff specialist and never made a field goal in college, so there’s a very small sample size of field goal attempts for NFL teams to judge. But anyone who can make two field goals from the 50-59 range, and two more beyond 60, in just three games is sure to draw NFL interest.

In fact, Bates is already drawing NFL interest, so much that Panthers coach Mike Nolan complained that teams are violating league rules by contacting Bates while he remains under contract to the UFL. Bates is free to sign with an NFL team after the UFL season, but while the UFL season is ongoing, NFL teams would be violating NFL rules if they contacted Bates or his agent to express interest in signing him.

Once the UFL season is over, however, it’s safe to say Bates will have multiple contract offers from NFL teams.