New Orleans Saints kicker and 2009 NFC Championship Game hero Garrett Hartley was one of two players released by the team on Tuesday following Week 15's blowout loss to the St. Louis Rams, according to NOLA.com's Katherine Terrell.
Hartley missed two field-goal attempts against St. Louis, dropping his success percentage to a career-low 73.3.
Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo reports who the team has signed to take Hartley's place:
Saints will sign veteran K Shayne Graham to replace Garrett Hartley, who was cut today.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 17, 2013
Head coach Sean Payton addressed the 27-year-old Hartley's struggles after Week 15's disappointing loss, per NOLA.coms' Terrance Harris:
We can't kick a field goal. We have one blocked, which was a low trajectory. The other one was shanked to the left.
I think we are looking closely at every element. I told the team in the team meeting we are looking closely at each aspect of this team. I just think it's important for us to do that, whether it's a tackle position or whether it's a player on defense. The one thing I know I don't want to do is repeat the process over and over again.
As far as the fantasy football implications the Saints' decision will have, it's unlikely that many owners will be scrambling to replace Hartley on their playoff rosters. As Rotoworld NFL writer Adam Levitan points out, Hartley had been struggling all year long with accuracy issues:
Fantasy owners need to get off scuffling Garrett Hartley even if the Saints stick with him. 30th in accuracy on year: http://t.co/PJP27RXSuy— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) December 17, 2013
Hartley hadn't made more than one field goal in a game since Week 11 and was owned in just over 38 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues prior to his release.
It remains to be seen whether the five-year veteran will get another shot in the NFL. While he has connected on 82 career field goals since his debut season in 2008, he's clearly lacking confidence at the moment.
But even if he never lines up for another field goal in the NFL, odds are that Hartley will be beloved in the Big Easy thanks to his clutch 40-yard field goal in overtime of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. That kick sent the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl. Hartley would add three more made field goals in New Orleans' Super Bowl XLIV win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Saints are looking to make a playoff push, however, and with Hartley struggling, they decided to part ways in order to find more consistency at the position.
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