Dennis Waszak Jr.
Dennis is a pro football writer who covers the Jets and NFL
DWAZ73dwaszak@ap.org

Greg Zuerlein wins kicking job as Jets cut Eddy Pineiro

August 23, 2022 GMT
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

NEW YORK (AP) — Greg Zuerlein booted his way to a win in the New York Jets’ kicking competition, beating out incumbent Eddy Pineiro.

The team announced Tuesday it released Pineiro among its five cuts to get down to the NFL-mandated 80-man roster limit. That left the 34-year-old Zuerlein as the lone kicker on the Jets’ roster.

Safety Elijah Riley, linebacker Kai Nacua and offensive linemen Isaiah Williams and Caleb Benenoch also were cut.

Zuerlein, nicknamed “Greg the Leg,” was released by Dallas in March and signed by New York to a one-year, $2 million contract. He and Pineiro, who was re-signed in the offseason to a one-year, $1.75 million deal, had a close competition throughout the offseason and training camp.

Zuerlein made a 44-yard field goal and an extra point in New York’s 24-16 preseason win over Atlanta on Monday night. Pineiro made both of his extra points and didn’t attempt a field goal but kicked a 26-yarder in the 24-21 preseason-opening win at Philadelphia.

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The kicker spot has been an issue for the Jets since Jason Myers went to Seattle as a free agent after making the All-Pro team in 2018. Matt Ammendola started as the team’s kicker last season before being replaced by Alex Kessman for one game. In December, New York signed Pineiro, who went 8 for 8 on field goals and 9 for 10 on extra points in five games with the Jets.

Zuerlein will be the seventh different kicker to open a season for the Jets in as many years.

“I would really like to get that settled down, to be honest,” special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said early in camp. “That was a big focus on bringing in Greg and re-signing Eddy and letting these guys compete.”

Zuerlein spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Rams, making the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams in 2017. He kicked for Dallas the last two seasons and struggled a bit last year, going 29 of 35 on field goal attempts and missing six extra-point tries.

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