- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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"It's always tough when you have to release a player like Rian Lindell,'' coach Doug Marrone said. "A true professional that's obviously been with the organization for quite some time. And I have a lot of respect for him.''
Lindell had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Bills. He is the most accurate kicker in franchise history, converting 83.3 percent of his field goals (225 of 270).
His 225 field goals and 980 points with the Bills both rank second in team history.
However, the Bills selected Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round of April's draft, putting Lindell, 36, in a competition for his job.
Lindell and Hopkins had split kickoff and field goal duties in the first two preseason games.
Lindell, who was scheduled to make $2.1 million in base salary, performed well this preseason, with three of his four kickoffs reaching the opposing end zone. In his only field goal attempt, Lindell converted from 30 yards.
Hopkins, 22, has a $405,000 base salary and was perfect on his field goals in the first two preseason games, converting attempts of 24, 23, 39 and 35 yards.
"I think in the past 10 days Dustin has performed better,'' he said, "so we made a decision to go with Dustin."
In four seasons at Florida State, Hopkins became the NCAA's all-time leader in points (466) and field goals made (88). In 2012, he was named first-team All-ACC and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation's best kicker.
"I find myself kind of in a paradox,'' Hopkins said. "This is something I've worked my whole life for ... but at the same time, it's kind of the bad part of pro sports, parting with a guy that I've got a lot of respect for and have admired watching for a long time, and has meant so much to the community.''
One of Lindell's first actions after being released was to congratulate his competitor and former teammate.
"The first guy that I heard from today before I heard anything was Rian just saying he was wishing me luck and he wanted the best for me and he was happy for me,'' Hopkins said. "I think that's just an accurate representation of the kind of guy he is, just not bitter or anything like that but genuinely happy for a guy that he's only known a few weeks.''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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