Steelers cut kicker Jeff Reed, sign Shaun Suisham
The Steelers career of placekicker Jeff Reed came to an abrupt end Tuesday when the team released the nine-year veteran and signed journeyman Shaun Suisham.
Reed, known as much for his quirky hairstyles and off-field problems as his kicking, fell out of favor after missing seven field goals this season, including two in a 17-14 loss Oct. 3 to the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
Reed missed a 26-yard field goal Sunday night in the Steelers' 39-26 loss to the New England Patriots. After the game, he said the weathered turf in Heinz Field had adversely affected his kicking.
Reed also voiced frustration over the fan and media criticism he has endured this season.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Reed's postgame comments did not factor into the Steelers' decision.
"He's had a lot of individual success and also contributed to our success, but at this juncture we thought it was appropriate for us to make a change," Tomlin said.
Suisham worked out for the team yesterday morning in Heinz Field.
Reed served as a team captain as recently as last season, but neither he nor quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has had his share of off-field incidents, were re-elected captains.
Reed was cited by police twice. He was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief in connection with damage to a paper towel dispenser in a convenience store restroom on Feb. 14, 2009 — just two weeks after the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII. He paid a fine and restitution.
On Oct. 18, 2009, hours after the Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns, Reed was charged with public intoxication after a confrontation with police outside a North Shore bar. The charges were dropped after Reed completed community service for the Salvation Army.
Yesterday, he said goodbye to team employees before leaving the practice facility.
Suisham has kicked for the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys and has converted 79 percent of his field goal attempts.
A native of Canada, Suisham went to training camp with the Steelers in 2005 but was unable to wrest the kicking job away from Reed.
Tomlin said Suisham is adept and comfortable at kicking in bad weather.
"He's no stranger to NFL competition, so we're extremely comfortable with the change and moving forward," Tomlin said. "We just looked at the cumulative body of (Reed's) work and where we are and how we move forward. We felt like, at this time, it justified a change."
Reed, the second-leading scorer in Steelers' history, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
"We've got to turn a negative into a positive," said Donal Henderson, Reed's agent. "We're ready to kick."
Reed, who scored 919 points in nine seasons with the Steelers, will almost certainly get an opportunity to resurrect his career elsewhere.
He went on waivers at 4 p.m. yesterday. If no team claims him after a 24-hour waiting period, Reed becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Steelers signed Reed to a one-year, $2.81 million contract in April after using a franchise tag on him in February.
The Steelers would have to pay the $1.2 million Reed is owed for the remainder of the season if no team claims him off waivers.
Reed said at the beginning of training camp that the Steelers never followed through on a promise to negotiate a long-term contract.
He drew the ire of fans by going public with his unhappiness over his contract situation, and his on-field struggles made him an even bigger target for criticism.
Reed was the NFL's most accurate kicker (88.5 percent conversion rate) from 2007-09 but only made 15 of 22 field goal attempts through nine games this season.
His comments about the Heinz Field turf may have raised red flags with the Steelers since he rarely criticized stadium conditions.
"I don't delve too deeply into mental states," Tomlin said when asked if Reed's struggles had gotten into his head. "This is a mental toughness game. I'm more result-oriented, and results are kind of what leads us to decisions."
Jeff Reed file
Weight: 225 pounds
NFL seasons: 9
NFL games: 127
2010 success: 15 of 22 (.682)
Lifetime success: 204 of 249 (.819)
Lifetime postseason: 16 of 18 (.889)
Game-winning field goals: 9
Notable: With 919 career points, Reed is second on the team’s all-time scoring list behind Gary Anderson (1,343). … He is 307 of 310 lifetime in extra-point attempts. … This season, he kicked the longest field goal in Heinz Field history (52 yards) and tied a career high with a 53-yard field goal at Cincinnati.
Reed game by game
Atlanta: 3-5 (Made 34, 36, 52 yards; missed 40, 55 yards)
At Tennessee: 4-4 (Made 25, 27, 34, 36)
At Tampa Bay: 1-1 (Made 24)
Baltimore: 0-2 (Missed 45, 49)
At Miami: 3-3 (Made 18, 22, 39)
At New Orleans: 1-2 (Made 18; missed 51)
At Cincinnati: 2-3 (Made 25, 53; missed 46)
New England: 1-2 (Made 22; missed 26)
Reed's six longest field goals
53 yards – Sept. 21, 2008 at Philadelphia
53 yards – Nov. 8, 2010 at Cincinnati
52 yards – Sept. 12, 2010 vs. Atlanta
51 yards – Oct. 17, 2004 at Dallas
51 yards – Sept. 26, 2004 at Miami
51 yards – Sept. 14, 2003 at Kansas City
Source: Tribune-Review research