Browns Cut Kicker Billy Cundiff, Sign Garrett Hartley
There were two moves that many expected the Cleveland Browns to make over the past couple games: 1) Johnny Manziel replacing Brian Hoyer and 2) Billy Cundiff being replaced as kicker. We found out early this week that the first was happening, Manziel is the Browns starter tomorrow. Cundiff’s job was safe according to coach Mike Pettine, until he had a slight knee injury later in the week. Today he was cut and the Browns signed Garrett Hartley to take his place:
Hartley went to college at Oklahoma. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos but was cut before camp even started. The New Orleans Saints signed him in the middle of the 2008 season where he played for the Saints until being released late last season. He hasn’t played at all this year.
In his 5 seasons with the Saints, his missed the entire 2011 season with injury, Hartley hit on over 81% of his field goals. He only missed one of his 177 extra point attempts as well. Hartley was solid and consistent until his last season. In the two years prior he his 8 of 10 field goals between 40 and 49 yards and 5 of his 6 attempts of 50 yards or longer.
Billy Cundiff has been the mark of inconsistency this season. He has missed one field goal in each of the last 5 games as well as missing both of his attempts in Week 3’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns lost 23 – 21. The Browns limited offense has had struggles scoring points over the last few weeks and Cundiff’s misses have come at the worst moments for momentum.
Most were surprised that the original plan was to keep him on as kicker. Things got a bit stranger yesterday as Cundiff blew off questions about his knee injury:
And seemingly didn’t wear a protective sleeve on the correct knee:
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It is possible the Browns were playing some level of gamesmanship with the Bengals or that they changed their mind regarding Cundiff after seeing him kick. Either way the team showed how they really felt by releasing him today.
The hope is that both Manziel and Hartley will provide upgrades to an offense that needs a spark at QB and consistency from the kicker.
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What do you think about the end of Billy Cundiff’s time with the Browns?