The Cleveland Browns finally have a kicker.
After perplexing many fans by submitting a final roster without a place kicker, the Browns announced that they have signed veteran Billy Cundiff.
The team made the surprising decision to terminate veteran Shayne Graham’s contract and then release rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay, just days before the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Sources close to the team said that former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter was scheduled to work out for the team, but the Buffalo Bills instead signed the veteran Carpenter after their rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins went down with an injury.
The 33-year-old Billy Cundiff kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2009 when their regular kicker Phil Dawson had an injured calf, and he made the winning kick in a 6-3 win over the Buffalo Bills.
But for many fans, Cundff’s signature moment is missing a 32-yard chip shot that would have sent the 2012 AFC Championship Game with the New England Patriots into overtime. After the kick Cundiff was criticized for not being prepared for the kick, with reports that coaches had to call him to the sidelines where he should have been waiting. Even Cundiff later admitted that he was “distracted” before the kick.
Cundiff’s addition isn’t doing much to raise expectations for the Cleveland Browns, however. Experts at ESPN.com predicted the team to finish fourth in the wide-open AFC North, saying much of the season’s hopes will fall on not-so-young second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“t is believed the Browns are giving Brandon Weeden this season to prove he is the quarterback of the future,” the site’s analysis says. “How he handles the pressure situations will determine whether the Browns need to find another franchise quarterback. The Browns lost seven times by 10 points or fewer last season, and three of them came after the Browns had the lead in the fourth quarter. Some of the blame can be put on how Weeden finished games. He was the 27th-ranked passer in the NFL in the fourth quarter, throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions. Only four quarterbacks threw more interceptions in the fourth quarter.”
While Weeden may remain a question mark, at least the Cleveland Browns finally have a kicker.