Cleveland holds a special place in the heart of kicker
See, it was in Cleveland, back in 2009, where Cundiff resurrected his NFL career. After playing in a combined 11 games between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints in 2005 and 2006, and not kicking during the 2007 or 2008 regular seasons, Cundiff was signed by the Browns to fill in for veteran Phil Dawson, who was rehabilitating a leg injury during the middle of the season.
Cundiff made all six of his field-goal attempts, including a game-winner at the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 11, 2009. After being let go by the Browns, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens and earned both Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 2010.
“It restarted my career,” Cundiff recalled. “For my wife and I, we have very fond memories here. I was out of the league for two years, was playing on teams, just not playing in the regular season. This was a team that took a chance.
“I was very grateful for that because the next season, I was playing in the Pro Bowl. I felt like I really got on track to where I was reaching my potential as a kicker. I’m very grateful for what they did for me. That’s why I was so excited to come back because of all those great memories that I have.”
“It is unique,” Cundiff said. “I’ve played here when I was with the Ravens late in the season. I was with the Browns and played here earlier in the season. I’ve seen it both ways. We had a great Midwestern fall and I got really lucky, or you can get a harsh winter where you’re playing and it’s really cold and the field is tough to get some traction on.
“Playing here brings its own set of challenges, but with a young team, there’s an upside. I think there’s a lot of exciting things that are going to happen.”
After playing in five games with the Washington Redskins last season, Cundiff spent the offseason and training camp with the New York Jets. He converted all three of his field-goal attempts, including two from between 30 and 39 yards.
“I had a good indication I’d be playing in the league this year,” Cundiff said. “When I got released from the Jets, I felt like I had a really good training camp. I felt like I put really good film out for teams to look at, and so, I knew it was just a matter of time. I didn’t know it was going to be this quick, but I was, obviously, very excited when I got the call and definitely looked forward to coming here.”
In the last three seasons, including two years with the Ravens and one with the Redskins, Cundiff converted 61 of 78 field-goal attempts (78.2 percent), and had 102 kickoffs result in touchbacks.
“Billy was a guy that we looked at and obviously, had a good workout,” said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. “He’s played and knows the division. He’s played here. He’s kicked well in the preseason so far. He’s outstanding as a kickoff guy. I think he’s 60 percent on his touchback percentage, and he’s been in the Pro Bowl. He’s a resilient guy. I have faith (in him). He’s on our football team, and I have the utmost trust in him.”