Billy Cundiff didn’t make Browns fans forget kicker Phil Dawson. However, he did make them miss him a little less.
Cundiff, who had the unenviable job of replacing Dawson last season, agreed Thursday to a one-year, $1.02 million contract with the Browns. Cundiff was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent last week, but Cleveland locked him up for another year.
After the Browns’ front office allowed the popular Dawson, a Pro Bowler the previous season, to leave and sign with San Francisco last year, Cundiff made 21 of 26 field-goal attempts and 32 extra points in 16 games. Cundiff also set a franchise record with 42 touchbacks. Of Cundiff’s 62 kickoffs, the opposing team started at or inside their own 20-year line 53 times.
The 33-year-old Cundiff, who began his NFL career with Dallas in 2002, made the Pro Bowl with Baltimore in 2010. He kicked in five games for the Browns in 2009 and has also played for New Orleans and Washington. He was in training camp with the New York Jets last summer before he was waived on Aug. 28.
The Browns signed him Sept. 3 and he was able to adequately fill in for Dawson, who had kicked for Cleveland since the franchise’s expansion rebirth in 1999 and holds most of the club’s kicking records.
During his pro career, Cundiff has converted 76 percent (122 of 160) of his field-goal attempts.
The Browns also extended a contract tender to starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson as an exclusive-rights free agent.
Robertson started 14 games last season, his second with Cleveland. The 6-foot-1, 234-pounder finished with 89 tackles — 63 solos — and had three sacks and an interception.
An exclusive-rights free agent doesn’t have negotiating power and must stay with a team if he’s tendered. Robertson will make $570,000 next season.
With captain D’Qwell Jackson’s recent release, Robertson is expected to take on a larger role with the Browns. However, it’s not yet known how he’s viewed by Cleveland’s new coaching staff and the team will likely target an inside linebacker in free agency.
Robertson missed two games with a knee injury. He started three games as a rookie in 2012 after he was signed to Cleveland’s practice squad.