Stover told he’s no longer in Ravens’ plans

Street Talk Stover told he’s no longer in Ravens’ plans

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OWINGS MILLS — Veteran kicker Matt Stover’s long and distinguished career with the Baltimore Ravens appears to be coming to an end.

An unrestricted free agent, Stover said Thursday night that he has been told he’s no longer in the team’s plans.

When Stover approached Ravens team officials Monday to inform them of a free agent offer to kick for the New York Jets, he said they responded by telling the 41-year-old that they are "going in a different direction."

"That answer made it very clear that they are not looking to keep me because they told me to go ahead and sign the contract with the Jets," Stover told the 24×7 in a telephone interview Thursday night. "It was a real offer from the Jets. The Ravens are going in a different direction now.

"I’ve moved on. We’ll see what other opportunities come. It could still be with the Ravens possibly, but I learned a long time ago that you don’t wait around. You make your adjustments."

The Jets wound up signing kicker Jay Feely, who’s a close friend of Stover’s. The development leaves Stover currently without a kicking job for next season.

"It would have been really tough for me to sign that contract because Jay is a very good friend of mine," Stover said. "I had a conversation with him and I just didn’t feel right about it. I would have had to sign without him having any knowledge of what was happening, so I didn’t."

The third-most accurate kicker in NFL history with an 83.7 career field goal percentage, Stover is the final player left from the Ravens’ time in Cleveland as the original Browns before they moved to Maryland in 1996.

The Ravens have young kicker Steve Hauschka under contract. He has a strong leg having made a 54-yard field goal last season while missing one other career attempt, but has limited experience besides kicking off.

Veteran kicker John Carney is a free agent option, but is regarded by the Ravens as being similar to Stover in terms of kickoff limitations.

The Ravens had an interest in kicker Mike Nugent, but he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If the Ravens’ plans fall through, they haven’t ruled out possibly going back to Stover at some point.

Last season, Stover rebounded from a slow start as he adjusted to new special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg to connect on 27 of 33 field goal attempts (81.8 percent). He booted a game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the Ravens’ dramatic playoff victory over the top-seeded Tennessee Titans to propel the Ravens into the AFC title game.

"I finished very strong with a very bad ankle, which was killing me," Stover said. "I feel good about the way I closed out the season."

Stover remains extremely reliable on pressure kicks, but the team prefers to not have to hold an extra roster spot for kickoffs. Stover’s distance isn’t what it used to be on long field goals, but he remains very capable from distances 45 yards and under.

Stover owns five NFL kicking records, including game-winning field goals (14) and consecutive games with a field goal (38).

Now, Stover’s intentions are to keep his options open and possibly continue playing.

"The big thing for me is I realize the privilege I’ve had to play this game and the opportunities that it has given me as a person and economically," Stover said. "I have no regrets from the past. I’m excited about my future."

Stover has made 462 of 552 career field goals and hit 558 of 561 career extra points for a 99.5 conversion percentage.

If his NFL career is coming to an end, Stover has prepared for the future by making several business connections and wise investments. He’s also active in NFL Players Association affairs.

Football remains in Stover’s blood, though. He doesn’t sound like he’s ready to retire.

"I feel like the ability is still there and the competitive spirit," Stover said. "I’ve been told by many wise men who played before me that you will know when it’s over. You will know when you’re called out of the game whether it’s through injury or lack of spirit.
"Or it could be the fact that nobody wants you. I’m keeping the door open on continuing to play until that time comes. I have tremendous faith in the Lord whether I’m playing or not playing."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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