Piñeiro in the 2019 NFL season.
|No. 15 – Chicago Bears|
|Born:||September 13, 1995|
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||177 lb (80 kg)|
|High school:||Miami Sunset (Miami, FL)|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2019|
|Player stats at PFR|
Piñeiro was born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban and Nicaraguan immigrants. His father, Eddy Sr., came to the United States from Cuba at the age of nine during the Mariel boatlift of 1980 and later had a professional soccer career with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the ASL/APSL.
Piñeiro started off playing soccer like his father; he was a four-time All-Dade County pick in soccer. Despite having grown up only playing soccer, he joined the Miami Sunset Senior High football team in his senior season, handling extra points and kickoffs.
Piñeiro signed with Florida Atlantic on a scholarship to play football, but academic issues prevented him from attending. His dad encouraged him to try on football cleats and pads but with no football scholarship, Piñeiro went on to play soccer for a small junior college, ASA College. In the summer of 2015, Piñeiro went to an open kicking combine at Alabama. Out of hundreds of kickers, Alabama coach Nick Saban narrowed his scholarship offers to Chris Salek and Piñeiro. Piñeiro verbally committed to Alabama, but later tried out for Florida and ultimately chose to play there.
Piñeiro played for the Gators during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. During his final year at Florida, Piñeiro had the best field goal percentage in the nation, making 17 out of 18 attempts for a 94.4% conversion rate. His career conversion rate of 88.4% (38-for-43) ranks first in school history (minimum 35 attempts), surpassing Bobby Raymond (who made 43 of 49 kicks, or 87.8%, in 1983 and 1984). Piñeiro's 38 made field goals rank sixth in school history, and his streak of 16 straight made field goals to close the 2017 season tied Jeff Chandler (2001) for the second-longest streak in program history.
Piñeiro declared for the 2018 NFL Draft early after only two seasons with the Gators, only to go undrafted. He signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent on May 4, 2018. He was placed on injured reserve on September 1, 2018.
On May 6, 2019, Piñeiro was traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he was one of nine participants in the Bears' 2019 summer kicking competition to replace Cody Parkey. The tryout was orchestrated by coach Matt Nagy to find a new kicker in the wake of the Bears' "Double-Doink" loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs, when Parkey missed the game-winning field goal when the ball hit the upright and then bounced off the crossbar before falling to the ground.
On August 24, in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, Piñeiro connected on field goals from 21 yards and 58 yards away. He also went 2-for-2 on extra points. Piñeiro finished the 2019 preseason connecting on 8 of 9 field goals and 3 of 4 extra points. His misses included a 48-yard field goal attempt against the Carolina Panthers on August 8, 2019, and an extra point attempt that went very wide to the left against the Tennessee Titans on August 29, 2019.
In the first game of the 2019 regular season against the Green Bay Packers, Piñeiro made his first NFL field goal on a 38-yard kick. The field goal ended up being the only points the Bears scored as they lost 10–3. During Week 2, Piñeiro kicked a game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 16–14 win over the Denver Broncos. He also made a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter. For his performance, Piñeiro was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
In Week 8, Piñeiro missed two out of five field goal attempts, including a potential game-winning 41-yard attempt as time expired, as the Bears lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 17–16. He missed his first regular-season extra point the following week, when his second of three extra-point attempts sailed wide right. He made his two other extra-point attempts in the Bears' 20–13 win over the Detroit Lions. He had been perfect on his first 15 attempts.
In Week 11, Piñeiro missed two field goals in the Bears' three first-quarter possessions during their game against the Los Angeles Rams; the Bears eventually lost 17–7. Nagy commented he would stick with Piñeiro as his kicker, and that he would not bring other kickers in to try out, even though Piñeiro was ranked 31st in the league in field-goal percentage at that point.
After missing an extra point (but making his two field goal attempts) in the Bears' Week 12 win over the New York Giants, Piñeiro was perfect in the final five games of the season, including making all nine field goal attempts and all eight extra point attempts. In the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, he was perfect on one extra point and four field goal attempts, including the game-winning 22-yarder to secure the 21–19 victory.
Piñeiro ended the 2019 season with 23 of 28 field goals made (82.1 percent). After the season, both coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace expressed confidence that Piñeiro would be the team's kicker in 2020. “For us, you all know, [kicker] was a huge, huge, big void that we had going into this year,” Nagy said. “I feel pretty good that that void is filled. I feel like that’s a positive from this year.”
Piñeiro is a Christian. In 2017, Piñeiro and his father, Eddy Piñeiro Sr., were awarded the Police Service Award from the Gainesville Police Department for helping a woman escape from a domestic abuser.
Piñeiro is the first player of Nicaraguan descent to play in the NFL. Before the Bears’ October 2019 game against the Oakland Raiders in London, Piñeiro received a glass sculpture as a gift from Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.
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