Well that was quick.
Less than 48 hours after being released by the Baltimore
Ravens, Billy Cundiff has indeed taken his services elsewhere and will be
kicking 40 miles down I-95 for the Washington Redskins.
Cundiff lost his kicking job in Baltimore to rookie Justin
Tucker and the competition wasn’t really as close as many made it seem. Tucker
converted 12 more attempts than Cundiff with the same opportunities during
training camp and showed to have the stronger and more accurate leg.
Whether the Ravens really expected Tucker to come in and
supplant Cundiff will never be known but the organization couldn’t ignore the
talent that outkicked the former Pro Bowler in all but two days of camp.
Tucker’s performance made Cundiff expendable, much to the
delight of fans who had been calling for his removal since the second he missed
the 32-yard chip shot that would have sent the AFC Championship game into
There is no doubt Cundiff is the most scrutinized kicker
since Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills, who missed a 47-yard field goal wide
right as the clock ran down on Super Bowl XXV. For someone with the baggage
that Cundiff has, it would be hard for another team to take a flier on him without
the help and confidence of someone within the Ravens organization.
Look no further than his coaching staff. John Harbaugh’s has
always been loyal to those closest to him and even during a time where he was
forced to release Cundiff, he did his best to publically praise his former
kicker. Harbaugh’s words were carefully chosen to instill confidence in another
organization giving him an opportunity to once again kick in the NFL.
“Billy [Cundiff] kicked very well. I’ve said it many times:
He is a great person. He is a heck of a kicker. He is a huge part of what we
accomplished here the last two-and-a-half years, and he’ll always be remembered
for that,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh concluded his comment saying, “We’ll remain close
friends and he’ll always be a part of us as Ravens.” The close friends piece
has a lot to do with the reason Cundiff now has another job so quickly.
Harbaugh didn’t have to praise Cundiff as much as he did, but to help a friend,
Harbaugh used his podium and media presence to help give his recommendation.
To help squash any concern over Cundiff’s miss in the AFC
Championship game, Harbaugh said it didn’t play into his choice to go with
“If it had been, he wouldn’t be back,” said Harbaugh. We had
confidence. Billy kicked well. Billy could very easily be the kicker here.
He’ll definitely be the kicker somewhere else. He had probably his best camp
that he’s ever had. So, he deserves a lot of credit.”
With the release of both Neil Rackers and Graham Gano, it
looks like Harbaugh’s comments were enough to give Dan Snyder and the rest of
the Redskins front office the confidence to sign Cundiff outright for the job.
Week 14 the Ravens will travel to FedEx Field, which gives
Cundiff the chance to prove he shouldn’t have been released.
Whatever the case will be by the time these two teams meet,
for now, it looks like the Ravens got the scenario they were looking for. Tucker
will be kicking for the Ravens, not against them, while Cundiff now has the
opportunity to resurrect his career and won’t be booed in front of his home
fans, and Harbaugh can now move on with his team and not have to reflect back
on a game that could have sent him to the Super Bowl.
No matter what happens with Cundiff in DC, Harbaugh should
have a “thank you” card in his mailbox at 1 Winning Drive any day now.