The Dolphins cut Dan Carpenter on Wednesday, deciding their kicking competition with three weeks left before the start of the season.
Caleb Sturgis, a rookie from the University of Florida, is in line to become the Dolphins’ opening day kicker. Sturgis, a fifth-round draft pick, beat out Carpenter in a training camp battle for the job, possibly sealing it with a 58-yard field goal in Friday’s preseason win against Jacksonville.
“On behalf of the Miami Dolphins, I would like to thank Dan for his contributions he has made as a member of the organization,” general manager Jeff Ireland said in a written statement. “For the past five seasons, Dan has been a tireless worker on the field while devoting countless hours of his time off the field to the betterment of the South Florida community.
“He has been a productive player and an outstanding citizen, and we wish him and his wife, Kaela, all the best.”
Kaela Carpenter is due with the couple’s first child Monday.
By releasing Carpenter this soon, the Dolphins — who saved $2.7 million with the move — might actually be doing him a favor. It allows him to sign with another team with plenty of time left in the preseason. Many believe he instantly becomes the best kicker available.
Carpenter’s agent said Wednesday the kicker did not ask for his release.
Hours before his release Wednesday, Carpenter was asked if he was already thinking about his next job should he lose out to Sturgis.
“It’s human nature, but I can’t afford to think what-ifs,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, with the team since 2008, has scored 535 points, converting 81.9 percent of his field-goal attempts.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and set the franchise’s record for longest field goal (60 yards) the following season.
However, he struggled from long distance in 2012 and missed kicks that would have won two games for the Dolphins early in the season.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin promised an open and fair competition between Carpenter and Sturgis this camp, regardless of Sturgis’ draft pedigree.
“I’m in a better rhythm now. I’m hitting the ball well,” Sturgis said Wednesday.
“I’m forming a good relationship with [long snapper] John Denney and [holder] Brandon Fields,” adding that kicking with them is “becoming easier and easier.”