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Ravens can't fully commit to Billy Cundiff

2/13/2012

Billy Cundiff said his Ravens teammates had been even more supportive than he imagined after he missed a last-minute 32-yard field goal in a 23-20 loss in the AFC Championship Game.

"It's been impressive. I expected a lot more backlash," Cundiff said after accepting an alumni award at Drake University. "I had a lot of guys that kept telling me, 'Look, I've made mistakes.' Obviously, everyone sees my mistakes. That's just the way it goes."

The Ravens shouldn't have cut Cundiff immediately after that crushing miss. That would be a knee-jerk reaction considering Cundiff is a year removed from being a Pro Bowl kicker.

But the Ravens can't fully commit to him as their kicker for next season. That miss was his 10th on the road last season (he was 13-for-23).

Cundiff will be under tremendous scrutiny next season, and the Ravens have to find out whether he can handle that pressure by giving him competition this year. He has to earn the right to be the kicker again.

Baltimore signed Cundiff to a five-year, $14.7 million contract before last season. But the Ravens only gave him a $3 million signing bonus, so they can cut him without major salary-cap ramifications.

It's a nice gesture that the Ravens have been supportive of Cundiff. But it will mean nothing if he can't win back their trust.