Ravens close to signing Shayne Graham

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens are on the verge of striking a deal with veteran free agent kicker Shayne Graham, a potential pairing that was first broached in March at the NFL owners meetings. The Ravens, including owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, met with Graham and his agent at the league meetings in Orlando, Fla..

The Ravens were haggling with Graham, 32, over a prospective one-year contract Tuesday night that's expected to be finalized as soon as this morning. Graham is the fourth-most accurate kicker in league history.

The former Pro Bowl kicker would compete with incumbent Billy Cundiff during training camp for the job.

"We like Shayne Graham a lot," Harbaugh said in March. "Shayne's a guy the Ravens have gone against, and he's made a lot of field goals against the Ravens. He's had a lot of success.

"Obviously, they had some operational issues last year that hurt him a little bit, but he's a hard worker and I think he's determined to prove himself again. I know he knows the kind of kicker he is. He would be an interesting possibility."

Graham wasn't retained after missing a pair of field goals from 35 and 28 yards during the Bengals' playoff loss to the New York Jets.

Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis made it clear the team was moving on by signing Dave Rayner and Mike Nugent and indicating that the Bengals had no intention of bringing back Graham, their former franchise player.

"Shayne is a free agent football player," Lewis told Cincinnati reporters after the draft. "We have to move ahead. I cannot determine what is in Shayne's future, or speak for his representation. We are going to get ready to play football based on the way our football team is put together at this point."

Graham has converted 28 of 33 kicks during his seven years with the Bengals, making 15 of 18 in games at Baltimore.

During a 2007 Baltimore loss, Graham set a team record by hitting 7 of 7 kicks.

For his career, Graham has converted 196 of 230 career field goals for an 85.2 percent success rate.

He also has a strong leg on kickoffs.

Cundiff made 12 of 17 kicks for the Ravens after replacing an ineffective Steve Hauschka. He also made all six of his kicks last season for the Cleveland Browns as an injury replacement for Phil Dawson.

Cundiff said he's not worried about competition.

"Teams let you know when they don't want you around," Cundiff said last week. "As long as I'm here, I could really care less about whatever is said. I have a chance to control what I do and that's go out and make kicks."


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