Just two days after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens, Billy Cundiff joined the Washington Redskins Tuesday with his place-kicking job for the regular season already secured.
The Redskins released their incumbent kicker, Graham Gano, on Tuesday, signed Cundiff and handed him their kicking job for the Sept. 9 season opener at New Orleans.
Cundiff said he’d been in touch with other NFL teams after he was released Sunday by the Ravens. The difference with the Redskins’ opportunity, he said, was the pledge that the job would be his without further competition.
“I think that was one of the situations as we looked over all of the teams that were out there,” Cundiff said. “We wanted to go somewhere where it wasn’t going to be a last-minute kind of rug pulled out. We wanted to make sure they were going to make a commitment because, for us, I felt like I’ve earned that within my career.”
The Ravens kept undrafted rookie Justin Tucker over Cundiff.
Cundiff made 28 of 37 regular season field goal attempts for the Ravens last year. But he missed a 32-yard field goal attempt in the final minute of the Ravens’ 23-20 loss at New England in last season’s AFC title game.
He said he didn’t know if that kick sealed his fate in Baltimore.
“It could be,” Cundiff said. “That’s what I asked them and they said it wasn’t. But to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t really matter any more. 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 really well the short time I’ve been here. I’m excited to play for them.”
He said he quickly came to grips with the crucial miss.
“I think after a couple days, I was able to put it in proper perspective,” Cundiff said. “I think there were some situations surrounding the kick that were completely different than all the other fourth-quarter kicks that I had. Again, those were things that I felt like were addressed at the time. Obviously the Baltimore Ravens know what happened. Once we were able to look at it and be very rational about the way things transpired. . .for me I felt like it was fairly easy to move on once I had a chance to absorb it. And so for me, I’ve got a lot of kicks under my belt in the NFL, a lot of successful kicks. And those are the things that I continue to build on.”
Cundiff’s miss came after the Ravens declined to call a timeout and their field goal unit hurried on the field.
“I think there were about seven things that all went wrong. . . It was just a comedy of errors in a way. And that’s just how it transpired,” he said Tuesday.
The Redskins released Gano one day after they’d released veteran kicker Neil Rackers, who competed with Gano all summer for the Redskins’ kicking job.
“I talked to Coach [Mike] Shanahan,” Cundiff said. “He said, ‘Look, it’s your job. We want to show all the confidence in the world in you.’ That’s obviously a big pat on the back for me, a big confidence-booster. I had all the confidence in the world after my training camp. I kicked really well. It’s nice to know that if one team didn’t need me, another team came calling right away.”