- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2021

“For now” turned out to be not for long. 

The Washington Football Team cut kicker Chris Blewitt on Tuesday and signed Joey Slye, parting ways with Blewitt after two games. Last week, coach Ron Rivera hardly endorsed Blewitt, telling reporters that he was the team’s kicker “for now.” 

Blewitt’s release comes after the 26-year-old went 2-of-5 in field goal attempts, with all three of his missed kicks blocked. Washington had turned to Blewitt last month after waiving kicker Dustin Hopkins

By turning to Slye, Rivera reunites with a kicker he had in Carolina. Slye, 25, spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Panthers, though he overlapped with Rivera only in the first year. Slye worked out for Washington on Monday.

Slye arrives in Washington following his own struggles. The team is Slye’s third this season as the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers both cut him. 

He has made 11 of his 13 field goal attempts this season. He was 4 of 5 in Houston and 7 of 8 in San Francisco, playing three games for each of the franchises. Slye also was shaky on extra points — missing three attempts. In both cases, the Texans and the 49ers moved on from Slye once their starting kickers —Ka’imi Fairburn and Robbie Gould, respectively — returned from injury

In Carolina, Slye made 79.4% of his field-goal attempts, going 54 of 68. The Panthers released him in August after trading for Ryan Santoso. 

“The thing everybody understands is kickers are hard to find,” Rivera said last week. “Consistent kickers are even harder to find. Guys that have had success in this league are on teams. There’s not a 90% guy out there right now that you could just pick up and he’s going to go out and do it.”

Rivera has faced criticism for cutting Hopkins, who has gone on to stand out with the Los Angeles Chargers. The former Washington kicker has not missed a field goal in the two games since the Chargers added him — and Hopkins hit a 29-yard game-winner Sunday to lift the Chargers past the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Hopkins, however, had struggled with Washington during Rivera’s tenure — even dating back to last season. This year, Hopkins had missed kicks in three of the team’s first six games. He was 12 of 14 from field goal range and 10 of 12 on extra points when Washington cut him

But the decision to replace Hopkins with Blewitt was questionable, given that Blewitt had not kicked in an organized game of football since college — in 2016. At the University of Pittsburgh, Blewitt also had accuracy issues as he made only 69.6% of his field goals. The Alexandria, Virginia, native had largely been out of the NFL in the years since, working jobs as a personal trainer and a warehouse worker for UPS. 

With Washington, Blewitt’s blocked kicks were his biggest issue. On two of the three blocks, Blewitt appeared to kick the ball too low and it barely cleared the line of scrimmage. In Denver, Blewitt’s last game, the ball went off the shoulder of a Broncos’ lineman.

Blewitt missed kicks of 47, 45 and 42 yards. He was good from 52 and 45 yards.

Slye’s longest kick of his career has gone for 56 yards.

“This was my move, my decision and I’ll live with it,” Rivera said last month after cutting Hopkins

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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