Kicked Out?

Stover: Ravens 'want to go in another direction'

kicker is the only holdover from team's relocation

March 06, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,

Matt Stover, the Ravens' kicker for their entire existence, said last night that he is no longer wanted by the team.

Stover, a free agent, said he approached the Ravens with an offer he had received from the New York Jets on Monday. The Ravens informed him they were moving on, according to the kicker, 41, the only player remaining from the team's relocation from Cleveland.

"At that point, we knew for sure their direction was not to keep me," Stover told The Baltimore Sun last night. "They want to go in another direction."

The Jets eventually signed Jay Feely, leaving Stover without a team.

Stover broke the news he wasn't in the Ravens' plans during an interview on 105.7 The Fan last night.

According to a team source, the Ravens consider Stover a fallback option. If the Ravens aren't comfortable with their kicker situation, they could ask Stover to return before the regular season begins, the source said.

Stover, who stressed he holds no animosity toward the team, also pointed out the Ravens can easily contact him because he lives a street over from general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"I do realize they may not find that person and they might end up giving me a call," Stover said. "I understand that. But I also have to move on, too."

The Ravens are looking to develop Steve Hauschka, last season's kickoff specialist, but they will sign another kicker to compete for the job, a team source said.

The team had talked with Mike Nugent before he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, the Ravens could draft a kicker or sign a veteran free agent as late as after the draft.

Calls to Ravens spokesmen last night were not returned.

It is believed the Ravens wanted to explore other options because keeping Stover has meant carrying a kickoff specialist. The team would prefer to use one roster spot on a kicker.

In 2008, Stover connected on 81.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, his worst rate since 1998.

The first indications Stover might not return came at the NFL scouting combine in late February when Newsome told The Sun: "He's probably looking, and we're looking, too. I think that's probably the best way of saying it."

Stover said he talked with Newsome after the season and was told he would receive a call later. But Stover said he never heard back from Newsome.

That's why Stover isn't surprised the Ravens decided to try another kicker. If Stover's career with the Ravens is over, only linebacker Ray Lewis remains from the 2000 Super Bowl team.

"I understand what they're doing," Stover said. "But I don't like it, of course. Nobody does. I don't feel like I've been mistreated. Talking to me prior to free agency might have been a nice thing to do. But they didn't have to."

The only viable free-agent kickers left on the market are Stover and John Carney, who played for the New York Giants last season.

Stover is the third-most-accurate kicker in NFL history, having made 83.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.

He holds five NFL records: most points for a franchise (1,464); most game-winning field goals (14); consecutive games with a field goal (38); most games with at least four field goals (26); and most consecutive point-after kicks made (389).

During the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl season, Stover accounted for 49 consecutive points during the team's five-game touchdown drought. It led to Stover's only Pro Bowl appearance.

Stover said his two most memorable kicks were a 47-yard field goal just before halftime in the Super Bowl and the game-winning 43-yarder against the Tennessee Titans in last season's divisional playoff game.

"It was a blast. I have no regrets," Stover said of his run with the Ravens. "I've worked extremely hard to kick well and be a vital part of this team and invest in the community. If it is the end, it will be difficult. I would love to play another year, and we'll see what happens."

Stover said he would continue to stay in shape and won't put a timetable on whether he will retire.

"At this point, I'm not going to hang up the cleats," he said. "Emotionally and financially, could I? Sure. Is it something I am going to do? I don't think so yet. I'm going to let it play itself out."

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