OWINGS MILLS - The writing appeared to be on the wall following Thursday's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and on Sunday the Baltimore Ravens made it official, releasing former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff in favor of rookie Justin Tucker.
Cundiff entered training camp expected to retain his job, but was outperformed by the strong-legged Tucker, who rarely missed during training camp and has yet to miss during the preseason.
"These decisions are never easy, and this one was difficult for all of us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. "Of course, that says something about Justin, the way he has kicked and our belief in him. But, that does not say anything less about Billy."
Cundiff was signed by the Ravens in 2009 and was selected to his first Pro Bowl a season later.
Nonetheless, he'll be more remembered in Baltimore for a kick he didn't make.
With the Ravens' trailing by three in the waning moments of the AFC Championship game in January, Cundiff shockingly missed a game-tying 32-yard field goal, dashing Baltimore's Super Bowl hopes and bringing its season to an abrupt and disappointing end.
The miss capped an erratic 2011 for Cundiff, who was just 28-of-37 during the regular season. He missed five of his six attempts from 50 yards and beyond.
Cundiff did bounce back with a solid offseason and training camp, but it wasn't enough to beat out Tucker.
Cundiff's fate appeared to be sealed when he was given the night off against the Jaguars last week. Tucker handled all the kicking responsibilities and connected on both of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.
Tucker is 5 for 5 on field goals during the preseason. Cundiff was 2 for 2.
Cundiff was set to enter the second year of the five-year, $14.7 million contract he signed following his Pro Bowl season in 2010.
By releasing Cundiff, the Ravens rid themselves of the $2.2 million base salary he was set to earn.
But because of the remaining $2.4 million in bonus money the Ravens still owe Cundiff, he will count $600,000 against this year's salary cap and $1.8 against next year's.
Tucker is set to make the league minimum ($390,000) this season.
NOTE: The Ravens also released quarterback Chester Stewart (severn native), tight end Davon Drew, wide receiver Devin Goda, offensive lineman Addison Lawrence, cornerback Jordan Mabin, center Cecil Newton, long snapper Patrick Scales and wide receiver Patrick Williams. The Ravens still have 81 players on their roster.
With defensive lineman Ryan McBean (broken ankle) and safety Emmanuel Cook (broken leg) likely headed to injured reserve, the Ravens must make four more moves prior to today's 4 p.m. deadline to trim the roster to 75 players.
The deadline to cut rosters to 53 players is Friday at 9 p.m.