Steelers release Gardocki

After selecting Daniel Sepulveda in the fourth round of the draft, the Steelers had their punter of the future. Wednesday, they cut bait with their punter of the past.

Apparently, the Pittsburgh Steelers have seen enough of Daniel Sepulveda to know that he's their punter of the future.

After 16 seasons in the NFL, punter Chris Gardocki was given the boot Wednesday by the team.

Gardocki's release comes about a month after the team traded up in the fourth round of the draft to select Sepulveda, the NCAA's all-time leader in punting average.

Gardocki signed with the Steelers prior to the 2004 season and was the team's punter the past three seasons. Originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round (78th overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft out of Clemson, Gardocki played four seasons with the Bears, four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and then five years with the Cleveland Browns before coming to the Steelers.

Gardocki has never had a punt blocked in his career, booting a league-record 1,177 times without one being blocked. In his three seasons with Pittsburgh, he had 199 punts for 8,369 yards (42.1 avg.), including a long of 65 yards.

In his 16 seasons, Gardocki punted 1,177 times for a 42.8 avg. and was named to the Pro Bowl following the 1996 season. That year, he posted a career-high 45.7 punting average.

But his average had fallen off steeply in the past two seasons to just 41.3 yards per kick in 2006, with only 11 of his 65 kicks being placed inside the 20-yard line.

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