The Washington Redskins made two surprised cuts a day after the roster had to be reduced to 75. The first was the announcement that Graham Gano didn't win the kicking competition with Neil Rackers. Instead he too received the boot and the team brought in Billy Cundiff, formally of the Baltimore Ravens. The Skins also released fan favorite, Chris Cooley, who shouldn't be on the market for long–assuming he's willing to play for another team.
Mike Shanahan stressed that Chris wanted to be a starter in the NFL. Last year, Cooley started the first five games of the season alongside Fred Davis before injuries shut him down. The team no longer believes that he can start for this team; clearly, they like Fred Davis and Niles Paul to be the top two options at tight end, with Logan Paulsen helping out in three tight end packages or in a relief role.
Chris Cooley has spent his entire NFL career with the Redskins. He amassed 4,703 yards and 33 touchdowns in his eight seasons, but will be remembered more for his character than his statistical accolades. While Cooley's admitted that it would be hard for him to play elsewhere, he was alerted by the team early enough to sign with an agent prior to his release, suggesting that he will at least entertain offers.
Many understood that Cooley wasn't guaranteed to make the roster for various reasons–age, remaining salary, depth at the position–but nobody ever guessed that both kickers would be cut. Or that Billy Cundiff too would be released by the Ravens.
But that's what happened and now the Washington Redskins have signed Cundiff to a one year deal; making him the foreseeable kicker of the future. I'm still shocked writing this, yet Cundiff does provide some consistency inside of 50 yards.
Cundiff had a 90% success rate on kicks inside the 50 last season, 27-of-31, but struggled from beyond there, just 1-of-6. He also made it to the Pro Bowl the year before (2010), while leading the lead in touchbacks, and according to John Harbaugh, was having a great camp this year.
"Billy had a great camp, the best he has had with us. He showed, like he always has, a toughness and an ability to come back and be a top-flight NFL kicker. These decisions are never easy, and this one was difficult for all of us – Ozzie, Jerry and me."
Yet the Ravens choose to hedge their bets on a rookie, Justin Tucker. By all accounts, the young kicker has impressed and Harbaugh even hinted that the move was more about their "belief" in Tucker than anything–referring to Cundiff's missed 32 yard kick in the AFC Championship last season, I suppose.
It's been a shocking day for Washington fans. We picked up a reliable kicker but lost a great Redskin. By season's end, will we say it was worth it?
Let us know what you think…
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