Ravens boot Cundiff from roster, Tucker earns kicking job

A move that seemed inevitable when Billy Cundiff didn't play in the Ravens' preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday became official Sunday when Baltimore released the former Pro Bowl kicker.

That leaves rookie Justin Tucker as the lone kicker on the Ravens' roster after winning a competition against the player whose missed field goal in the final seconds of the AFC Championship in January ended Baltimore's season.

Cundiff entered training camp expected to retain his job, but was outperformed by the strong-legged former Texas Longhorn, 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, referring to himself as well as general manager Ozzie Newsome and special teams coach Jerry Rosburg. "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."

Harbaugh added: "Billy was ready in every way to be our kicker. He'll kick in the NFL. He's a very good kicker and an even better person."

Cundiff was signed by the Ravens in 2009 and was selected to his first Pro Bowl just a season later.

Nonetheless, he'll be more remembered in Baltimore for a kick he didn't make.

With the Ravens' trailing by three points at New England in the AFC title game, Cundiff shockingly missed a 32-yard field goal that would've tied the game, dashing Baltimore's Super Bowl hopes.

The miss capped a disappointing 2011 for Cundiff, who was just 28 of 37 on field goal attempts during the regular season, including just 1 of 6 from 50 yards and beyond.

Cundiff bounced back with a solid offseason and training camp, but it wasn't enough to beat out Tucker.

Cundiff's fate appeared to be all but sealed when he was given the night off against the Jaguars last week and Tucker, handling all the kicking responsibilities, connected on both of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder that he drilled with plenty of room to spare during the first half.

Tucker is 5-of-5 on field goals during the preseason. Cundiff was 2-of-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. Because of the remaining $2.4 million in bonus money still owed to Cundiff, however, 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: Along with Cundiff, Baltimore also released tight end Davon Drew, wide receiver Devin Goda, offensive lineman Addison Lawrence, cornerback Jordan Mabin, center Cecil Newton, long snapper Patrick Scales, quarterback Chester Stewart and wide receiver Patrick Williams.

The Ravens 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 Monday's 4 p.m. deadline to trim rosters to 75 players.

The deadline to cut rosters to 53 players is Friday at 9 p.m.

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