The Pittsburgh Steelers officially released placekicker Jeff Reed this morning after yet another week of missing makeable mid-range field goals.
Reed was playing under the team’s “franchise tag” this season after the two sides could not come to an agreement on a contract extension, but he certainly did not live up to the title that was paying him the average salary of the top five kickers in the NFL.
After nine games this season, Reed had only made an abysmal 68 percent of his field goal attempts, making just 15 of 22 kicks.
Reed was brought in as an undrafted free agent from North Carolina in 2002 to fill in for the injured Todd Peterson. After finishing the season with 100 points and proving to be deadly accurate in the swirling wind of Pittsburgh, Reed was signed long-term by the Steelers, who released Peterson in the off-season.
From the 2002 season on, Reed was one of the few kickers in the NFL to be relatively unhindered by the open end of Heinz Field. Reed's accuracy in poor weather conditions provided job security for the once undrafted North Carolina product.
The last few seasons, however, have shown a sharp decline in accuracy, combined with several alcohol related incidents, that caused many to question whether or not he was drinking his way out of the job.
Reed has been erratic at best this season, missing as many as three field goals in a game against Baltimore, ultimately costing the Steelers the game. Missing a 26-yard field goal against the Patriots on Sunday night was apparently the straw that finally broke the camel's back.
Reed was released this morning in a meeting with head coach Mike Tomlin, who was involved in trying out former Cowboys and Redskins placekicker Shaun Suisham this morning as well.
The Steelers signed Suisham, who has a 79.4 field goal percentage for his career, this morning after he proved his wares at Heinz Field in front of the Steelers brass. Suisham also provides a strong ability in the kickoff aspect of special teams, something Reed consistently struggled with throughout his career in Pittsburgh.
While Suisham may not be the long-term solution to the Steelers’ kicking woes it will not be difficult to improve on the poor performance Reed has turned in this season.
It is likely that the Steelers will reevaluate the position at season’s end.
Hines Ward—is likely to play this coming week against the Raiders after suffering a mild concussion in the first quarter Sunday night.
Troy Polamalu—Has a strained Achilles tendon and will be limited in practice this week with the expectation that he will play Sunday against Oakland.
Lawrence Timmons—Is also likely to play this week after suffering a hip contusion in Sunday's loss against the Patriots. He will be limited in practice as a result of the injury, but should be ready to play come game day.