Redskins Sign Former Ravens Kicker Billy Cundiff, Release Graham Gano
(Originally posted 8/28/12, 11:13 a.m.; Updated 8/28/12, 9:52 p.m.)
ASHBURN – A day after Graham Gano appeared set to return for his third consecutive season as the Washington Redskins’ kicker, the team released Gano on Tuesday and signed former Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff.
“You’ve got to make some tough decisions and we had some competition right to the end,” head coach Mike Shanahan said briefly after practice. “We had the opportunity to get Billy, and by our research over the years, we just thought that was the best move for us at this time. It gave us the best chance to win.”
Cundiff, 32, spent the last three seasons in Baltimore, but was released earlier in the week when the Ravens chose rookie Justin Tucker. The Redskins seemingly ended their kicking competition on Monday when they released Neil Rackers.
“For me, obviously, a tug of emotions,” Cundiff said. “When you start to see what I accomplished in Baltimore, and then to have the door kind of shown to me a little bit earlier than I thought, then to have a team come up right away and say they’d like to have my services and they were going to make a move … that’s, obviously, a big pat on the back, a big confidence booster.”
Cundiff, released Sunday by the Ravens, said the Redskins’ move to sign him was “immediate” after he cleared waivers Monday afternoon. While his agent fielded calls from a couple teams, “nobody kind of showed the initiative that the Redskins did,” he said.
He agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Washington only after being assured that he would not have to compete for the job – something he didn’t think was surprising “considering the camp that I had.”
That meant releasing Gano, who had a 73.8 career field goal percentage and went 31-for-41 last year. He had five attempts blocked, and went 4-for-6 from distances greater than 50 yards last season, including a 59-yard field goal at the end of the first half against San Francisco that set a team record.
“I would like to thank the Redskins organization for the 3 years I spent with them,” Gano wrote on his Twitter page Tuesday morning. “I will miss my teammates and I wish you the best of luck!”
Cundiff owns a career 76.7 field goal percentage over eight seasons and made 28 of 37 of his field goal attempts last season, but went 1-for-6 on field goals greater than 50 yards and is 5-for-19 in his career.
He also missed a tying 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the AFC Championship game, pushing it wide left and allowing New England to advance to the Super Bowl with a 23-20 victory.
Missing that kick is a reason why Cundiff believes he’s no longer with the team.
“That’s what I asked them, and they said it wasn’t, but to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t even really matter anymore. I’m here, I’m excited for a new start. This is a team that’s really good. This is a great organization. They’ve treated me very well in the short time I’ve been here. I’m excited to play for them.”