Monday, August 27, 2012
Should Steelers consider signing Cundiff?
By Jamison Hensley
Whenever a high-profile player gets cut, the mail starts pouring in: Should the Ravens sign Shawne Merriman? Will the Browns go after Terrell Owens? Think the Steelers will trade for Maurice Jones-Drew?
The hot topic now is kicker Billy Cundiff, who was cut by the Ravens on Sunday. From Twitter to my mailbag, I have received many, many, many questions on whether the Steelers should consider Cundiff.
The initial reaction is why would the Steelers replace one unreliable kicker (Shaun Suisham) with another unreliable kicker (Cundiff). But the Steelers apparently aren't committed to Suisham. Pittsburgh had one field-goal try in Buffalo on Saturday, and it went to rookie Daniel Hrapmann. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette wrote, "It appears they are giving Hrapmann every chance to unseat the veteran."
The Steelers aren't married to Suisham financially. He signed a four-year, $6.3 million contract last season that included a $1.35 million signing bonus. If Pittsburgh released Suisham, there would be a $675,000 hit on next year's salary cap.
Suisham ranked last among NFL kickers last season, converting 74.2 percent of his attempts (23 of 31). Cundiff wasn't much better in 2011, making 75.7 percent of his tries (28 of 37). But Cundiff did hit a 51-yarder in Pittsburgh last year, which is only the fourth successful field goal over 50 yards in Heinz Field's 11-year history.
The difference between the kickers were in the attempts under 50 yards, where Cundiff (87 percent) was much more dependable than Suisham (75.8 percent). There's also a disparity on touchbacks, where Cundiff (44, tied for second in the AFC) had 16 more than Suisham.
The big question, of course, is can you trust Cundiff in the playoffs after that miss in the AFC championship game. Cundiff was 11 of 12 on field goals in playoffs while with the Ravens, and his only miss could be chalked up to the kicking team rushing out onto the field because of a miscommunication. Suisham is 9 of 14 on field goals in the playoffs, although he did make all three attempts in Denver last season.
So, do I think the Steelers will sign Cundiff? Probably not. Cundiff, though, would love a chance to play against the Ravens twice each year. Based on my talks with the other division bloggers, the prospects of Cundiff signing somewhere else immediately aren't great. There could be a chance in Oakland, where Sebastian Janikowski was removed from the Raiders' third preseason game with a groin injury. At this point, Cundiff has gone from kicking in the Pro Bowl in January 2011 to being out of a job 19 months later.